Sep 28, 2012 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorWolverine senior Aaron Nirider was just one stroke out of the playoff for the 4-A championship.
Aaron Nirider took a turn in the right direction before he started his junior year on the Riverton High School golf team.
"I become more passionate about the game," said Nirider, now a senior, about his decision to make golf a top priority. "It's my second life other than my family. I love being out on the golf course. This is my home. I feel welcomed out here."
The change took him all the way to a third-place finish last Saturday at the Class 4-A boys state golf tournament at the Three Crowns Golf Course in Casper, just one stroke out of first place.
Nirider also has a sixth-place finish from the 2011 state golf tournament at the Riverton Country Club.
He works part-time at the Riverton Country Club.
"I'm very happy with myself," Nirider said. "I practice every day. I play almost every day in the summer."
Nirider put himself into state title contention with a 74 on the first day, then opened the final 18 holes shooting a 33 on the front nine.
Nirider had the lead after he made the turn to start No. 10.
"I had no idea that I was leading the whole thing," Nirider said. "I try not to get ahead of myself. I just think about my next shot."
Nirider said his game plan on the final nine holes was to get his pars.
"I knew I could put together a good score on the final nine holes," Nirider said. "I just had to believe that I could get pars. I didn't want anything else."
In the stretch drive, Nirider hit a couple of bogeys and a birdie.
One of the bogeys came on No. 18 in the final hole of the tournament.
"I was about 130 yards from the green, and I pushed it right into the water," Nirider said.
The outcome could have been worse.
"I took a drop and got up and down for a bogey, which I was very happy with," Nirider said.
Junior Nathan Green from Green River won the Class 4-A title in a one-hole playoff over Kelly Walsh senior Austin Hinchey.
Green had a pair of 73s for his total of 146. Green birdied the first extra hole to claim the individual championship.
"Nathan is a great golfer," Nirider said. "When I play with him, I don't see a lot of mishits out of bounds or in the water. He is pretty straightforward."
Hinchey scored a 75 on the first day and cut four strokes off the second day with a 71 to force the playoff for his 146.
"Austin has his days," Nirider said. "I have seen in previous tournaments, he can go low as a 68 or high, like a 79 or 80.
The Wolverines came up with a third-place finish at the Class 4-A state tournament. RHS was a 326 on the first day and a 335 on the second to finish with a 661. The Wolverines were second the week before at the Class 4-A West conference tournament.
"I didn't think that we would get third at state," Nirider said. "We have a lot of individual talent on the team."
Kelly Walsh won the title (620) and Cheyenne East placed second (652).
"We have three good golfers then we have three good golfers that are young," Nirider said. "We just had to do it."
Nirider has an offer play golf next year at Eastern Wyoming College in Torrington. Nirider said former RHS golfer Zach Waxler helped make the connection. Waxler played golf for Eastern and is now on the Utah State University golf team. The head coach for the Lancers is Casey Jones.
"Zach is the one that talked to the coach," Nirider said.
Nirider is keeping every door open before he signs with a college.
"I don't want to close any doors for sure," Nirider said. "Getting third will help my future."
Riverton High School results from 4-A state golf tournament
Aaron Nirider, 74-73--147; Preston Ward, 84-82--166; Lars Becker, 80-90--170; Jordan Yowell, 88-97--185; Ryan Axthelm, 95-0--185
Whitney Aschenbrenner, 93-100--193; Lincoln Horath, 109-100--209; Kendra Miller, 106-125--231.
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