News of Riverton, Lander and Fremont County, Wyoming, from the Ranger's award winning journalists.
Paxton pulls away for 11-stroke win at 4-A golf tourney
Oct 2, 2013 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports Editor
It's the first individual crown at state for a Riverton boy.
Freshman Easton Paxton pulled away from the field Tuesday to secure the Class 4-A individual crown by an 11-stroke margin in Rock Springs.
It was the first ever Class 4-A individual title won by a Riverton High School player.
Paxton begin the state title march with a 73 on Monday. He played to a 69 Tuesday for the history-making victory.
"It means a lot," Paxton said. "That is what I have worked for my whole life."
Paxton finished second at the Class 4-A West conference tournament played at the Riverton Country Club.
"I didn't think there was any pressure (at state) because I was a freshman," Paxton said.
"I have played against a lot of seniors and college golfers that have won state championships before. I kind of felt like an underdog. I like being in that position."
Former RHS golfer Aaron Nirider finished one stroke off the pace last year at the Class 4-A state tournament in Casper, the best finish by a Wolverine at state before Paxton's victory.
"A lot of good golfers have come through here," Paxton said.
"I'm glad I got to play good golf at the right time. There have been a lot of good golfers that have raised the bar."
Paxton's mother, Kara Paxton, passed away in July after a battle with brain cancer. He was thinking of her Tuesday.
"It just made it so much better that I could go win it for her," Easton said.
Easton is the older brother to Treyton and Parker.
"It was a pretty emotional day," Paxton said. "I wouldn't trade if for anything. It was really special."
Key practice round
The tournament was played at the par-72 White Mountain Golf Course. Paxton and his RHS teammates made a special trip to Rock Springs last week to play the state course.
"The course was in really good shape," Paxton said. "It was windy.
It was dried out. The green were hard. The ball took a really big bounce before it was stopping. It was tough to judge. That got a lot of people."
Nathan Green of Green River and Cheyenne East's Quintin Pope were the main challengers to Paxton before the tournament started.
"I have a great relationship with both of them," Paxton said.
Pope and Green are both seniors. Green won the state tournament last year.
"They have taken me under their wing," Paxton said. "They have raised the bar for Wyoming golf."
Pope finished second (82-71--153) and Laramie's John Murdock IV was third (78-78--156). Murdock is a junior.
Paxton was up five strokes after the first day.
"It helped a lot," Paxton said. "That put a little cushion there."
Paxton said he didn't let the windy conditions bother him.
"I just hit the ball really good, especially in the wind," Paxton said.
"I hit a lot of greens. I didn't make a lot of putts in the first day. I played smart. The wind got to a lot of people."
Paxton collected four birdies and one bogey in the final 18 holes.
"I hit the ball in the fairway, every time in the middle of the green and two putted a lot," Paxton said.
The 14-year-old started off with four pars and two birdies on his way to the victory.
"I knew I didn't have to do anything special to get the win," Paxton said.
"I made some putts. I played solid on the second day."
Paxton doesn't have any plans of slowing down on the golf course.
"I'm just going to keep on playing golf and having fun," Paxton said. "Hopefully, we get a few more state championships."
Paxton will now be on the RHS freshman basketball team this winter.