The Evanston High School golf teams played well in a crowded field at last week’s Star Valley Invitational, consisting of two one-day tournaments held at Valley View Golf Course in Afton Thursday and Friday.
With seven teams on the boys’ side — including Jackson, Green River, Kemmerer, Pinedale, Lyman and host Star Valley — the Red Devils earned a pair of second-place team finishes in the two-day, two-tournament event. Braxton Lind earned medalist honors on day two, carding a 74; his 78 on day one was good enough for second place.
The girls’ tournaments featured six teams — Evanston, Jackson, Star Valley, Pinedale, Lyman and Green River. The Lady Devils placed fourth on day one, but battled back strong on day two to finish second, led by an incredible about-face by Lady Devil Zoe Dean. After shooting a 95 on day one, Dean shaved 14 strokes off her score on day two, carding an 81 and claiming medalist honors.
“The thing that impressed me the most was, we took 14 kids to that tournament, and 13 of the 14 improved their scores on the second day,” said EHS head coach Jerry Carroll. “As coaches, we love that.”
Jackson swept the team titles in both boys’ and girls’ competition.
“The first day I think was a little rough, but the second day showed a lot of promise, so I was excited about that,” Carroll said. “We used to tear this little course up, because they mowed it short and it was a little tourist course. But now they let the rough grow extremely long around the greens, which makes it a much more difficult course than it used to be.”
The Red Devils and Lady Devils are on the road again this week, joining the nine-team field at the Rock Springs Invitational Thursday at White Mountain Golf Course.
Jackson won the team title Thursday in the first of two tournaments, with an overall score of 315. Evanston was second at 339, followed by Star Valley (346), Kemmerer (349), Green River (379), Star Valley Gold (381), Pinedale (384) and Lyman (400).
Red Devil senior Braxton Lind fired a 78 in day one of the Star Valley Invitational, and appeared to be in good shape to finish in the top spot. But Jackson’s Mason Evans countered with a 74 to win the day.
Kyle Barker carded an 82 to finish seventh, while McKay Johnstone (89), Sam Dolezal (90) and Ty Blair (97) rounded out Evanston’s top five. On the JV side, Porter Hall shot an 87, giving the Red Devils four golfers shooting in the 80s or lower.
“That’s good, but we need to figure out which golfers are gonna shoot those scores,” Carroll said. “The two scores we liked in that round were the 78 from Lind and the 82 from Barker, because we need to be around 320 to be a competitive team, and that’s about an 80 average. We were about 19 strokes above where we need to be to be a good golf team.”
With a taste of what to expect from the course, the Red Devils went into day two with a renewed focus, and that was reflected in the scores. Jackson again won the team title with a 315, with Evanston nine strokes back with a 324. Star Valley was third (326), followed by Kemmerer (350), Pinedale (365), Star Valley Gold (371), Green River (381) and Lyman (396).
“We told the guys before day two that now they’ve seen the course, you know how the greens are,” Carroll said.
Lind won medalist honors with a 73, with Barker tied for sixth with an 81. Dolezal shaved eight strokes off Thursday’s score, carding an 82; Johnstone finished with an 88 and Hall a 97 to round out the varsity.
Evanston had the top three finishers for the JV, with Jaden Desch carding an 85, Ty Blair an 87 and Aiden Hansen a 91.
“If you combine the two days, he [Lind] would have won overall,” Carroll said. “But I saw the potential of this team coming through, especially on day two. We had six golfers in the 80s or lower, so the future looks bright. I was very pleased with a 324 on day two.”
The Lady Devils struggled to a fourth-place finish on day one with a 290, trailing Jackson (244), Green River (266) and Star Valley (289).
“I was very surprised by the quality of competition we had,” Carroll said of the girls’ tournaments. “Jackson comes in, and that first day, they shoot a 244. All of Jackson’s girls were right around the 80 mark. Usually if you shoot 300 or lower, you’re a pretty good golf team, so we were right where we need to be. But we ended up taking fourth.”
Evanston finished with three golfers in the 90s, led by Zoe Dean with a 95; Aryana Little was a stroke behind at 96 and Hadley Blackwell carded a 99. Isabella Johnson (103) and Rachel Buzarde (105) rounded out the Lady Devils’ top five. Green River’s Isabell Salas earned medalist honors with an 80.
Like their counterparts on the boys’ side, the Lady Devils also got better as the event went on, shaving 25 strokes on day two to finish second with a 265. Jackson was again in the top spot with a 255; Green River (281) was third, followed by Star Valley (288) and Lyman (361).
“We went all the way down to a 265 the second day, which was fantastic, considering how little [time] we’ve had to work with these girls over the summer,” Carroll said. “
Dean earned medalist honors with an impressive 81, 14 strokes better than the previous day. Little was nine strokes better than the day before, finishing in a tie for fifth with an 87. Johnson carded a 97, while Blackwell also broke 100 for the first time this season with a 98. Buzarde finished at 100.
“That was Rachel [Buzarde’s] best round ever,” Carroll said. “There are little barriers you have to break as a golfer, and she’s gotta break that 100 barrier, and I think she’ll be good to go. Once they break that barrier, they start to do it all the time.”