Lander boys, girls golfers take state titlesSep 17, 2017 By Scott Akanewich, Sports Editor
For the first time in the program's history, the Lander Valley Tigers boys and girls golf squads have won Class 3-A state titles in the same year, which they accomplished in Douglas on Thursday and Friday.
For the Lady Tigers, it was their their second consecutive crown, as Macy Jacobson, Jaclyn Hudson, Rachel Stoinski, Jade Ware and Laina Martin combined to successfully defend their championship from year ago.
Lander's team total of 313-289-602 was good for a victory over runners-up Buffalo, who posted a 308-307-615.
According to Tigers head coach Mike Watson, it was especially satisfying for his side to bounce back on the second say of the tournament, shaving 24 strokes off its opening-round score.
"I think our kids were just more comfortable on the second day," said Watson. "After all, it's state and there's a lot of pressure."
On the individual side, double-defending Class 3-A state champion Jacobson failed to defend her title, finishing second to Torrington's Caleigh Essert, who fired a 79-78-157 to Jacobson's 91-80-171.
The Lady Tigers' top gun wasn't helped by a pair of two-stroke penalties in Thursday's first round after a controversy over a lost ball arose.
However, Watson wasn't going to take anything away from the new champion, he said.
"I give Caleigh a huge amount of credit -- she played two really good rounds of golf," said Watson. "Macy showed a lot of character coming back and shooting 80 the next day."
Hudson was 13th with 114-102-216, while Tigers teammates Stoinski was 16th (112-107), Ware was 18th (110-113-223) and Martin finished 37th (132-134-266).
On the boys side, it was freshman Calkins who stole the show, posting an impressive 71-72-143, good for a three-shot victory over Thermopolis' defending Class 3-A state champion Hudson Roling, who carded a 71-75-146.
Watson said with the fall season being so short, it's down to Calkins' off-season dedication for his success in only his freshman year of high-school competition.
"During the fall, as coaches we can only fix so much, as far as things like course management and so forth -- it's in the spring when we can really work closely with players on their games," he said. "But, Jaren plays so many rounds of golf over the summer, he's used to pressure, so even the state tournament is no bigger than any other for him."
The battle between Calkins and Roling was enjoyable to witness unfold over the course of the two-day event, said Watson.
"Both Jaren and Hudson are good friends," he said. "So, it was awesome to watch them be able to battle it out."
Lander's Wilson Brockie finished fifth with 80-89-169, while teammates Dominic Yates (seventh, 87-84-171), Jacob Lytle (21st, 93-95-188) and Gavin Dixon (38th, 100-100-200) helped secure the team title.
Watson was proud of how his young swingers responded under the crucible of state-level competition, he said.
"It's something to be able to take a freshman and three sophomores to a state tournament and have them do so well," said Watson. "All of them certainly learned a lot."