47 Years in the Making

Lady Loco’s golf win 2nd State Championship in school history
Chris Mcconnell
Thursday, October 4, 2018
Outlook photo by Chris McConnell  The 2018 State Championship golf team is seen with the 1971 State Championship team at Laurel High School on Tuesday. The 1971 team offered congratulations to this year’s team on the historic victory 47 years after they brought the first state title to LHS. From left: Haylee Adams, Hannah Adams, Keli Hodges, Dee Peterson Baxter, Judy Burke, Janny Burke, Madi Cooney, Lexie Harper, and Elise Shovar.  Outlook photo by Chris McConnell  The 2018 State Championship golf team is s

Outlook photo by Chris McConnell

The 2018 State Championship golf team is seen with the 1971 State Championship team at Laurel High School on Tuesday. The 1971 team offered congratulations to this year’s team on the historic victory 47 years after they brought the first state title to LHS. From left: Haylee Adams, Hannah Adams, Keli Hodges, Dee Peterson Baxter, Judy Burke, Janny Burke, Madi Cooney, Lexie Harper, and Elise Shovar.

 

In 1971, a man known only as “D.B.” Cooper parachuted out of a hijacked commercial airliner over Washington State and was never heard from again.

In 1971, Muhammad Ali was defeated by Joe Frazier in “The Fight of the Century.”

In 1971, Apollo 14 landed on the moon carrying Alan Shepard.

In 1971, the 26th Amendment became law, lowering the voting age from 21 to 18.

And in 1971, the Lady Locos won their lone State Golf Championship in school history.

Now, 47 years later, the 2018 Laurel girl’s team capped a remarkable season by winning the school’s second State Championship by an impressive 34 strokes over Whitefish at Hamilton Golf Club Sept. 28–29.

The march to this historic State Championship began last February at a team meeting in Laurel that included Elder Grove School 8th grade twins, Haylee and Han- nah Adams. Coach Jim O’Neil spoke to the current and future Lady Loco’s and explained the system he and Assistant Coach Shawn Hackmann had put together at Laurel. “I gave them an opportunity to win as a team,” he said.

This week, Lexie Harper said her coach might have had a premonition, “Mr. O’Neil already seemed to know [this could happen] before” we did.

The lone senior on the team, Elise Shovar, laughed and said she was late for that meeting, but said, “The team pulled together at that first meeting and we started playing as a team.”

That was the beginning of an eight month journey to the most successful season in nearly half a century.

This fall the girl’s team won 8–of–12 team tournaments and never finished sec- ond to any Class A school. Junior Keli Hodges and freshman Haylee each picked up an individual title and the team broke 370 four times.

After the first round at State last Friday, Hannah and Shovar led the team with an 89 and 90. Divisional medalist Haylee had a 92 and Keli Hodges posted a 96. The team took an 11–shot lead over Whitefish into the final round.

Then, saving their best for last, the Lady Loco’s fired Laurel’s best team score in at least two years in the final round to add 23 strokes to their 11–shot lead and easily win the title. Hannah tied her career low round with an 87 and Haylee Shattered her previous best by five with an 84. Hodges and Shovar matched 94s and history was made.

Haylee said the team wasn’t over confident going into the final round and said winning State at that point was still “iffy.” Shovar and Hannah played together the second day and they said they were able to “check in” with their teammates between holes so they knew they were doing well.

Three players finished in the top–10 and all players were in the top 25, including Madi Cooney who shot 100–105. Shovar and the Adam’s twins garnered All–State honors.

Shovar credited “humility and confidence” as factors for their outstanding season, stating the team had the “hearts for golf and fierce spirits. They all came in as strong individuals.”

On Tuesday at Coach O’Neil’s LHS class- room, the winning girl’s team was visited by some special guests: The entire 1971 State Championship team. Laurel residents Dee Peterson Baxter and twins Janny and Judy Burke congratulated the girl’s team and spoke of their experience. They said they competed against Class AA schools and were the only Class A team in the tournament that year.

Only the top–2 team scores from each round counted in the girl’s competition in 1971 and the Locos won Divisionals by 27 shots, then went on to take State by 18 shots over Billings Senior. It was the first time an Eastern Division team had won the state championship, which was held at Hilands Country Club in Billings. Janny was the medalist. Peterson–Baxter said “we had to sell concessions to pay for our travel and we got two golf balls per tournament, so we had to make sure we didn’t lose them.”

Coach O’Neil said he was proud of the girls this year and remarked that there had been several good girls team’s in the past, but called not winning a state tournament in more than four decades “unacceptable” for the program. He gave credit to the team dynamic this year and how easily the girls bonded. “We had a group of girls who put their minds together and said ‘let’s accomplish this,’” he said, before adding, “we want to repeat next year.”

Laurel Athletic Director Roger Heim- bigner took the time to offer congratulations to both teams on their outstanding seasons this year:

“I am proud of what our boys and girls teams accomplished this year. Under the guidance of Coach O’Neil and Coach Hackmann the kids worked hard all year and their consistency paid off because of that work. Our coaches and players have continued the great tradition of successful golf at Laurel Schools.  I am excited where our program is and where our coaches are taking them in the future.  Coach O’Neil and Coach Hackmann are great leaders and that is reflected in how our team conducts themselves on the course. Great kids with great results!”

With Shovar the only departing Senior and some future talent coming up through the ranks, it is safe to say it won’t be another 47 years before the Lady Loco’s win their third championship.

Sept. 28–29

Hamilton Golf Club

Hamilton, MT

Team scores: Laurel 726, Whitefish 760, Cor - vallis 782, Sidney 811, Polson 822, Hamilton 826, Miles City 827, Havre 906, Lewistown 912. Individual: Tricia Joyce, Butte Central, 75-77-152; Macee Greenwood, Corvallis, 78-79-157; Ella Shaw, Whitefish, 88-85-173; Hannah Adams, Laurel, 89-87-176; Haylee Adams, Lau - rel, 92-84-176; Ashtyn Swigart, Miles City, 86-93-179; Megan Archibald, Whitefish, 89-90-179; Keelee Storrud, Corvallis, 93-90-183; Elise Shovar, Laurel, 90-94-184; Perry Widdicombe, Billings Central, 91-93-184; Cali Cannon, Pol - son, 92-94-186; Karly Volk, Sidney, 95-91-186; Lindsey Huber, Dillon, 96-91-187; Aly Rose, Hamilton, 94-94-188; Sammee Bradeen, Libby, 95-93-188. Jasi Oyler, Stevensville, 94-95-189; Keli Hodges, Laurel, 96-94-190; (Madi Cooney, Laurel, 100-105-205).

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Upcoming Events

Tuesday, October 16, 2018
6:30 p.m., Council Chambers
Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Tuesdays, Noon, Beartooth Grill, 305 1st Ave. S.
Tuesday, October 16, 2018
(Take Off Pounds Sensibly) Tuesdays, 8:30 a.m. weigh-in, 9 a.m. meeting, United Methodist Church Basement, 839-8757 (Sharon) 628-5803 (Cheri)
Tuesday, October 16, 2018
• Knights of Columbus Council #6455 meeting, third Monday 7 p.m., St Anthony’s Parish Hall, 700 block of Third Ave.
Wednesday, October 17, 2018
10 a.m., Laurel Public Library, 720 West Third Street, Laurel, 628-4961
Wednesday, October 17, 2018
Wednesdays, 7 p.m., 201 1/2 E. Main St., Laurel

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