Last Tuesday’s wind dropped trees across town, temperatures hovered in the 40s, and an untimely snow spit across the rolling greens at Snake River Sporting Club.
Not particularly ideal for a home golf tournament, but the Jackson Broncs golfers chose not to mope.
The opposite, in fact. Head coach Ryan Allen all but shrugged shoulders before saying those conditions were exactly what they needed.
“I take a lot of value out of it,” he said. “We needed some windy days under our belt.”
Considering last year’s state finale went on under similar conditions, Wyoming weather does not yield for the hopes of a pristine golf outing. This year’s championship, to be played Friday and Saturday in Casper, doesn’t look to be so nasty, though a steady wind should be expected, according to Allen.
Regardless, the Broncs are entering with the expectation of returning to Jackson with something tangible. On the girls side, where a contingent of five seniors have launched through the season with only victories, they’ve not minced words when describing goals. It’s always been to win a state championship.
However, to the surprise of perhaps everyone, including the players, the boys side ought not be counted out of contention, either. Consider: A season ago, the Broncs boys did not secure a victory in any tournaments. This year they’ve won all but two.
“If we play well, boys and girls, we can bring trophies home,” Allen said. “For these girls, the five seniors, this is their last chance to represent Jackson Hole High School. They all want to be top 10. They want to be all-state. If we have four of them in the top 10, we’ll probably win state.
“But it’s the boys team that has really surprised me and surpassed all my thoughts of what it could be for the season.”
Sophomore Mason Evans is returning from the state team last year, and he admits to a drastic change in the expectations of his team. For him it’s as simple as mindset.
“We’re just getting more comfortable with everything,” he said. “Last year we just felt all scared, at least that’s how I was. This year I’m just more confident with everything.”
What makes the Wyoming state championship in golf so unusual is the absolute blindness teams go into the tournament with. In most years teams from one end of the state do not get much of a look at what the other side offers. Especially so in a COVID-19-tainted year, in which Jackson’s planned trip to Sheridan early in the season was axed.
It means that while Kelly Walsh returns as the defending boys champions and Thunder Basin returns as tops of the girls side, no one really knows what their competition brings to the table, and searching results online doesn’t offer much guidance.
Take, for example, Tuesday’s home tournament at Snake River. On the girls side, Vivian Herr took the title on 88 strokes. After Herr, Jacqueline Neishabouri and Marena Herr tied for second at 89 to round out the Jackson scorers. Martha Olson placed fifth on 94 strokes, and Sara White was ninth at 107.
On the boys side, Adam Russell led the charge, dipping below the 80-stroke benchmark with a 79 for fourth place. Ridge Kling and Hayes Millham shot 87s to tie for fifth, and Max French shot an 89 for 10th place. The Broncs’ fifth golfer, Mason Evans, tied for 12th at 92.
Those numbers may not blow head covers off golf clubs when other teams look at results, but often final strokes aren’t telling anything close to a full picture.
“You see scores online, you see what teams are shooting, but you don’t know anything about the weather that day,” Allen said. “And it’s fun too. We get two days, and we’ll just go tee it up and see how it goes.”