Aug 17, 2012 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorRiverton High School senior Aaron Nirider put himself in position for the individual title Thursday after shooting a first-round 73 to sit in third place at the Riverton Invitational golf tournament.
Nirider and the rest of the golfers were finishing the 36-hole tournament Friday at the Riverton Country Club. The tournament is the season opener for the golf teams in the state. The par at the Riverton course is 72.
"Aaron played really well," RHS coach Lars Flanagan said. "He has worked hard for the last couple of years. This is his home tournament. He knows the course very well." Nirider finished sixth in the Class 4-A state tournament last year, also on the home course. Nirider had a 33 on the front nine on Thursday and a 40 on the back nine.
"He kind of stumbled out of the gates a little bit," Flanagan said. "That can kind of really mess with your head and screw it up. It didn't affect him."
Nirider came into the Riverton Invitational as the No. 3 player for the Wolverines.
"Aaron doesn't get too high, and he doesn't get to low," Flanagan said. "He stays focused. He is at a good place." Nirider's score landed him in a spot in the final group for the second round.
"The final foursome is a solid," Flanagan said. "The winner will just be the person that makes the putts. Aaron is a kid who hits the ball straight. He doesn't put himself in too much trouble."
Powell's Bowen Prestwich had the lowest score of the first day with a 71. Green River's Nathan Greene was second at 72. Austin Hinchey from Kelly Walsh was fourth at a 74.
Prestwich is the defending Class 3-A champion.
Riverton's Oakley Hackleman finished his round shooting a 83. The score was a tournament low for Hackleman.
"Oakley didn't put himself in any trouble," Flanagan said. "He played smart."
Other scores for the varsity team were by Preston Ward (87), Lars Becker (85) and Isaiah Valerio (98). Ward entered the tournament as the No. 1 golfer for the Wolverines. Becker was in the No. 2 position.
"Preston is a long-ball hitter," Flanagan said. "When you are a long-ball hitter, you can't put yourself in a bad place. He can't make it up on one swing. He needs to finish the hole on a positive way."
Whitney Aschenbrenner led the way for the RHS girls with a 100. Lincoln Horath was next, coming in at a 108. Shaylee Cunningham added a 125, and Kendra Miller had a 130.
The Wolverines headed into the second round in second place in the team standings. RHS finished the first 18 holes with a team score of 241.
Jackson is first at 231, and Evanston is third sitting at 243. Kelly Walsh came into the two-day tournament as the favorite to win the tournament. The Trojans are expected to compete for the state crown next month in Casper. The Trojans are eighth (257) and the Mustangs are sixth (256).
"Kelly Walsh and Natrona have split there teams so they are not at full strength," Flanagan said.
Riverton Invitational results from Thursday
1. Jackson, 231; 2. Riverton, 241; 3. Evanston, 243; 4. Powell, 251; 5. Lander, 252; 6. (tie) Green River and Natrona, 256; 8. Kelly Walsh, 257; 9. Cody, 261; 10. Star Valley, 264; 11. Riverton varsity B, 281; 12. Rock Springs, 282; 13. Thermopolis, 283.
1. Bowen Prestwich, Powell, 71; 2. Nathan Greene, Green River, 72; 3. Aaron Nirider, Riverton, 73; 4. Austin Hinchey, Kelly Walsh, 74; 5. Carson Walker, Star Valley, 76; 6. (tie) Henry Eden, Jackson, and JJ Gill, Jackson, 77; 8. Pat Maslak, Cody, 9. Scooter Gill, Jackson, 77; 10. Jacob Blakeman, Evanston, 78.
Other Riverton scores
Preston Ward, 87; Lars Becker, 85; Oakley Hackleman, 83; Isaiah Valerio, 98; Jordan Yowell, 99, Chris Quayle, 89; Ryan Axthelm, 93; Jaden Nyberg, 108; Deyton Henry, 105.
Levi Stuttle, 92; Trey Massey, 86; Casey Winger, 81; Scott Kaufman, 90; Tyson Sollars, 85.
1. Cody, 283; 2. Natrona, 291; 3. Powell, 305; 4. Riverton, 333. Note: Only teams to field team score
1. Sydney Gunn, Cody, 83; 2. Ashlee Leum, Rock Springs, 89; 3. Kalle Lunsford, 90; 4. Kelsey Cross, Cody, 91; 5. Kyle Graney, Natrona, 95.
Lincoln Horath, 108; Whitney Aschenbrenner, 100; Shaylee Cunningham, 125; Kendra Miller, 130.
Jordan Hitshew, 102; Janae Hudson, 122.
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