They had one round to practice, then it was on. More than 100 of the best 3A high school golfers, including 10 of Douglas’ finest, came together for the fall State Championship meet in Afton. With the course 433 miles away from Douglas, the Bearcats, along with Wheatland and Torrington, traveled nearly 7 hours across the state to compete.
The Douglas High School girls team made the return trip with hardware in hand. The girls took home a trophy for finishing in third place over the two days with a team score of 610.
“I was so proud of them. They picked the right time of the year to play their best golf. All five of them really stepped up,” head coach Chase Plumb said.
As individuals, the team was led by senior Katie Notman. The senior shot a 187 during the weekend with a 91 on the tournament’s second day (Sept. 21). The 91 on day two was the third lowest score among all of the girl golfers.
Pairing with her success on the scoreboard, Notman ended her high school career on the links with a poetic flair, birdieing the last two holes. She also earned All-State honors in Afton, according to Plumb.
Trinity Rich finished in a tie for 16th place after putting in a 213 tournament score. Rich improved on her second day by seven strokes from 110 to 103.
The next pair of Douglas High School students finished one after the other in 18th and 19th places. Ashley Kleemeyer ended her trip to Star Valley with a 214 total, cutting 14 strokes off her score from Sept. 20 on the next day for a 100 final, setting a new personal record.
Denali Bergquist had her best day on Friday with a 110 and finished with 221. Bergquist finished square in the middle of the 37 girls golfers that took on the State Championship course. As the second senior on the team, Bergquist brought both leadership and experience to the course even though she didn’t golf all four years in high school.
“She turned into an All-Conference player this year and she’s only been playing for two years. She turned into a heck of a player in just a short time,” Plumb said.
Aspen Edwards came in 26th after a 120 first day and 116 second day for a 236 total, more than 20 strokes better than her performance at the 3A East Conference Championships the previous weekend in Torrington.
The Bearcats finished in a solid third place with their 610, 10 strokes behind second-place Lander and 20 ahead of Buffalo.
In addition to the stiff competition across the board, the Bearcats were facing off with the weather. It was hovering around 40 degrees the entire weekend and rained most of the time, but Plumb pointed out that none of the golfers let that become an excuse.
Competing in a larger field of 13 boys teams and 66 individual golfers, the DHS boys came in sixth with a team score of 732. All of the boys who took on the course finished tied with another golfer.
The best individual golfer for the Bearcats in Afton was Josh Chavarin. He finished the tournament in a tie for 13th place with Worland’s Konnor Macy. Chavarin ended up with a 170 total after peaking on the first day with a 10-over par 80. For the second day, Chavarin was paired with some of the best golfers in the state in the final grouping and, while he didn’t have the success he was hoping for, he has time to build on it.
“He’s got next year to learn and grow from this and hopefully be an All-State player,” Plumb said.
The next Bearcat on the leaderboard was Rees Starkey. He tied for 21st place with Buffalo’s Olie Wagner at 176. Starkey was just one stroke behind the next closest finisher.
Ending his fall season as one of the 35th place finishers was Justin Kleemeyer. He shot a 189, his best score was an 89 on the first day, and he was one stroke away from the next highest and lowest finishers.
Caidyn Spilski was tied for 41st with a 36-hole score of 197. Spilski improved by five strokes on Sept. 21 for a 96 over the 18 holes. Plumb said that Spilski has steadily improved all throughout the season.
Hunter Stetter rounded out the Bearcats pack as one of two finishers in 47th place to end with a 206. Stetter improved significantly on the second day, cutting his 110 on Sept. 20 down to a 96.
This may have been the culmination of a year’s worth of work, but it’s not the end of the road. Eight of the 10 golfers can be back next season to make their mark and improve on 2019. The entire boys team could be among them.