Aug 9, 2012 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorZach Waxler has a spot on the Utah State University golf team.
He learned the news Monday. Utah State is located in Logan, Utah, and fields a Division I golf team.
The former Riverton High School golfer finished his sophomore season in May at Eastern Wyoming College in Torrington.
"I'm excited for the opportunity," Waxler said Wednesday afternoon at the Riverton Country Club after taking a break for working on his putting game. "It has been a long time coming. I have worked really hard."
Mike Johnson, the former golf pro in Lander, went to USU. "That is what got me into looking at Utah State," Waxler said.
Johnson is now working in Vail, Colo., in marketing.
Waxler knew time was running out for him to get a spot on the team.
"If I wasn't going to golf at Utah State, then I was just going to go to school at Wyoming. I'm just glad that it worked out," Waxler said.
Waxler plans to major in business marketing when he is at USU.
Waxler is the second local player to get the chance to play Division I golf in the fall.
P.J. Thomas has signed a national letter of intent to play for the University of Wyoming Cowboys. Thomas and Waxler both graduated for RHS in 2009.
"It's nice to be able to play with P.J. all summer," Waxler said. "We push each other. P.J. has played really well this summer. "
Waxler said the Cowboys and the USU Aggies are scheduled to play in some of the same tournaments.
"We are going to play the same tournaments as the Cowboys play," Waxler said. "You never know, maybe P.J. and I will play against each other."
No. 1 at Eastern
"My teammates at Eastern helped a lot," Waxler said. "They pushed me to be a good player."
Waxler was the No. 1 player for the Lancers. He played for coach Casey Jones. Waxler won the Region IX individual title. He had a scoring average of 73.8 to qualify for nationals.
"My coach helped a lot at Eastern," Waxler said. "He made it fun for us. The whole school was a good environment."
Waxler had rounds of 80, 82, 81 and 83 to finish in 108th place.
"I didn't play that great at nationals," Waxler said. "It was a really tough course. It was the toughest course that I have played on. There were very good golfers at nationals. "
The tournament was held at the Sand Creek Station Golf Course in Newton, Kan.
"It was a good learning experience," Waxler said. "The course had a score rating of 77.6. It was very tough."
Waxler played in a number of tournaments this summer.
"I didn't perform all that well," Waxler said. "I averaged around 78. That is one of the reasons why Utah State waited so long."
The Aggies are a member of the Western Athletic Conference. USU finished eighth in the WAC tournament in May.
"Utah State lost a lot of people," Waxler said. "They return only two players." The teams in the 2012 WAC tournament were San Jose State, New Mexico State, Fresno State, Idaho, Louisiana Tech, Nevada and Hawaii. San Jose State won the WAC crown, and New Mexico State placed second. Waxler will leave for USU on Aug. 24. Practice starts at Aug. 27. College golf has a fall season and a winter season.
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