AA State Golf
Last fall in Missoula, two of the state AA class golf titles went to a local team. A similar outcome seems likely at this year’s AA State Boys and Girls Tournament.
The Cottonwood Hills Golf Course will host the AA State tournaments on Thursday and Friday. Bozeman Gallatin has a good chance of winning the team and individual championships at the nearby course. Girl races seem more likely to end with non-Bozeman winners. Many, if not all, title races are expected to be competitive.
Round one began with a gunshot at noon Thursday, two hours later than originally expected due to cold temperatures and potential morning frost, the Montana High School Association said.
Here’s a look at the 2021 State AA tournaments:
State tournament: Sep 30-Oct 1
at Cottonwood Hills Golf Course, Bozeman
medalists 2020: Kade McDonough from Missoula Sentinel (boys), Sami Yates from Bozeman (girls)
team champions 2020: Missoula Sentinel (boys), Bozeman (girls)
In the first two years of their high school career, Justus Verge finished first and his twin brother Jordan Verge finished second at the State AA Boys Tournament. Last fall, after moving from Bozeman High to newly formed Gallatin, the Verges got a taste of the drug they prescribed in 2018.
Missoula Sentinel’s Kade McDonough helped Jordan settle for second place and Justus for third at Larchmont Golf Course and Missoula Country Club last year. McDonough, a freshman at the time, shot a pair of 70s to finish 3 under, four strokes ahead of Jordan. It was Sentinel’s first individual state golf title since 2005.
McDonough was excellent again this fall, but missed out on a Western AA division championship last week. He and Butte junior Jack Prigge finished with a total of 143 in two rounds, and Prigge birdied the first hole of the playoffs to claim the title.
Helena Capital, with the addition of Joe McGreevey this season, finished first among AA West teams, three strokes ahead of Sentinel.
Prigge was unable to compete in the state last season because tracing COVID-19 contracts forced him to quarantine himself and miss divisions. He finished tied for 19th in the first year of the 2019 State AA tournament.
Jordan Verge looked set to win his first individual state title in the East AA Division last week, where he shot a 70 and a 64 to win the medal. Justus was second, six strokes behind his brother.
Great Falls CMR’s Justus and Eli Groshelle tied for third place at last year’s state tournament. Groshelle, now a junior, tied for fourth with Ramey Lloyd of Gallatin and Reece Mayala of Billings Senior in the divisionals last week, while Tye Boone of Billings Skyview placed third. Boone was tied for 15th in State last fall, Lloyd tied for 19th and Mayala tied for 20th.
The Verges and Lloyd led the Raptors to a 46-stroke tag team division championship, with the Senior taking second.
The girls’ field will feature tough new faces for the top spots after many of 2020’s top contenders graduate. As the reigning five-time champion, Bozeman has sought to replace 2020 champion Sami Yates (now golf at Seattle University). Bozeman golfer Cooper Knarr finished one shot behind Yates last fall, and she now attends Harvard. Their teammate, Franchi Ceartin, is now at Montana Tech after finishing tied for fifth in the state. Marcella Mercer of Kalispell Flathead, who tied for third last fall at Missoula, also graduated in the spring and plays golf at Washington and Lee University.
Candidates to challenge for the next AA State Girls Champion come from Billings in Senior’s Kenzie Walsh, who tied with Mercer for third place in freshman at the 2020 State Tournament, and Bella Johnson of Billings. West. Walsh finished tied for fifth in the divisions last week, six strokes behind the winner Johnson, who had a score of 159 in two rounds. Johnson ranked 14th in the state last year.
One shot behind Johnson at the divisionaries was Senior’s Lauren Mayala, who finished tied for 18th in State last year. Bozeman’s Ellie Atkins and Gallatin’s Addiley Lloyd (Ramey’s sister) finished two shots behind Johnson in the divisionals. Lloyd was tied for 12th in last season’s State Tournament, and Atkins was tied for 20th.
West won the East AA tag team title last week, finishing 15 strokes ahead of second place Senior.
Like the boys, Capital was the AA West Girls’ Champion, beating the Kalispell Glacier by two strokes.
Kodie Hoagland of Butte was the divisional champion of the West AA with a 156, one stroke better than Jillian Wynne of Flathead. Hoagland was tied for seventh and Wynne tied for 12th last season.
State Golf A
After two years of finishing runner-up at the State A girls’ golf competition, Macee Greenwood blown the competition as a junior last fall, winning the Montana Class A high school tournament by seven strokes.
The Corvallis eldest doubled her dedication to golf last summer, but the additional travel and tournament experiences weren’t always pleasant. This season she has dedicated herself to having fun again and so far she has been successful.
She only has one task left: to repeat as the champion this weekend in the State A competition at the scenic Polson Bay Golf Course in Polson.
âThe thing with Macee is that even if she has a bad hole she can activate it,â Corvallis coach Kristy Schlimgen told 406mtsports.com. âLast week in the division, she didn’t play her best game out of the first nine, shot 44, then she turned and shot 35 in the back to win.
âShe has a great swing and she knows how to score, manage a course and she has a great opportunity to repeat. But it’s all about confidence and confidence in your swing and your short game.
Greenwood isn’t the only golfer with a good repeat chance in the 36-hole Polson event, which starts Friday morning and ends Saturday afternoon.
Laurel’s daughters are a good bet to win their fourth straight tag team title. On the boys’ side, Whitefish is a strong contender to rehearse but will have their hands full with Laurel, Billings Central and Livingston. In the boys’ individual race, a new champion will be crowned and two are expected to challenge division champions Johnny Nix of Whitefish and Danyk Jacobsen of Livingston.
State tournament: October 1 and 2
At Polson Bay Golf Course, Polson
To note: Players will face a mix of old and new at Polson Bay. Someday they will play the original 18, which includes the old nine visible from the highway. 93. The next day it will be nine holes from the original course and nine more recent holes.
2020 medalists: Macee Greenwood of Corvallis and Cameron Kahle of Whitefish. Kahle graduated in the spring of 2021.
2020 Team Champions: Laurel for girls and Whitefish for boys.
Greenwood has yet to decide where she will play college golf and her dream is to play at the NCAA Division I level. It further encourages him to shine at Polson. But it certainly won’t be a gift. Frenchtown rookie Katie Lewis gave him a hard time all season and finished just two shots behind Greenwood at the divisionaries in Hamilton. East divisional champion Haylee Adams of Laurel is also expected to push for the women’s medals.
The Laurel daughters won the East Division with a score of 374 last week. It was 18 moves better than finalist Livingston. To put into perspective how good that team score was by the Locomotives in Sidney, Corvallis won the West Division last week with a score of 389.
On the boys’ side, it looks like a two-man race between Whitefish and Laurel. Whitefish scored 311 last week to win the Western Divisionals by 10 strokes over Polson. In the Eastern Division, Laurel took the team’s honors with a score of 317. It was 11 strokes better than runner-up Livingston.
The boys’ medal race is going to be intriguing. On paper, Nix is ââthe favorite after securing a winning score of 73 in the Western Divisions. He edged Hamilton’s Jackson Heath and Libby’s Reece Malyevac by three strokes. Jacobsen of Livingston won the East Division with a 77. Cameron Hackmann of Laurel was just behind him with 78.