Laurel boys win third State Championship in a row, Hackmann runner–up

Chris Mcconnell
Thursday, October 10, 2019
Photos by Chris McConnell                        Carson Hackmann hits his tee shot on the first playoff hole in front of a crowd of more than 100 at Laurel Golf Club. Hackmann lost on the third hole to finish runner–up, but the boys team hung on to win their third State Championship in a row.

Photos by Chris McConnell
          
            Carson Hackmann hits his tee shot on the first playoff hole in front of a crowd of more than 100 at Laurel Golf Club. Hackmann lost on the third hole to finish runner–up, but the boys team hung on to win their third State Championship in a row.

Photos by Chris McConnell The Laurel golf teams celebrate their combined fifth State Class A Championship in a row on Friday evening at Laurel Golf Club.

Photos by Chris McConnell

The Laurel golf teams celebrate their combined fifth State Class A Championship in a row on Friday evening at Laurel Golf Club.

In 1999 the Laurel boys golf team celebrated their third consecutive State Championship. Fast forward 20 years and the Laurel golf program is again celebrating their third consecutive State title and the 11th championship in school history. 

This year’s win wasn’t easy as the Loco boys struggled in the cool and windy conditions on Thursday and Friday, only securing victory over the last couple holes. This was in stark contrast to last year’s win when it was essentially over after the first round.

Head Coach Jim O’Neil admitted the Loco boys didn’t have their “A” game during the tournament. “The process was tested. We just let the other teams falter,” he said.

Going into the final round the Locos trailed Billings Central by six, a team they had dominated all year but who had upset them at Divisionals the week before. Throughout the day it became clear it was down to two teams and the Locos and Rams went back and forth all the way to the finish, before the boys claimed a four–shot victory.

Carson Hackmann shot 79–77 and finished as runner–up individually after falling to Whitefish’s Cameron Kahle on the third playoff hole. Hackmann had led most of the final round and had a three shot lead standing on the 17th tee. Kahle finished birdie–eagle to tie Hackmann and force a playoff in dramatic fashion.

Hackmann said he didn’t know where he was after he made a 5–foot par putt on 18, which ultimately got him into the playoff. “I didn’t know where I stood. I thought I had lost,” he said. 

On the first playoff hole, and with more than 100 spectators watching, Hackmann pumped driver 290 yards down the middle to give him the advantage. “That was only the second fairway I hit all day,” he said, admitting he had struggled with his driver for the tournament. They both made par and again matched pars on 18. Playing hole 10 again on the third playoff hole, Hackmann lost his tee shot to the right. His ball hit the top of a tree and dropped into the water. After missing the green with his third shot and failing to get up and down, he finished in second place which matched his finish from the 2018 State tournament.

“I wasn’t nervous during the playoff, I was excited,” he said. He admitted to feeling a little like Tiger Woods with all the people watching and following the playoff. “It was the most people I’d ever played in front of.”

Hackmann had struggled with his game over the summer and in the early part of the season, but he came on strong at the end after winning the Laurel Invitational in September. He said his inconsistent play was “mostly mental, but I started trusting the ball and relaxing.” Hackmann finished the season as an All–State golfer with one win, two 2nd’s and two 4th place finishes.

2019 Divisional medalist Nick Pasquarello had a tough start both days but in the final round played his last 11 holes one–under par to come roaring back into contention. He missed the playoff by one shot after his birdie putt on 18 hung on the lip. Speaking of his strong finish he said, “I tried to go into a different zone. There was a lot riding on this and did the best I could, individually and for the team.”

“After losing Paul (O’Neil) and Cash (Golden) from last year’s team, we had to grind this year and play pretty hard,” Pasquarello said.

Pasquarello won three tournaments over the season, led the team in scoring average for the year with a 74.8 and never finished out of the top–10 in any event. Besides Divisionals, he also won the Hardin Invite and the Billings Central Invitational. His 3rd place finish at State earned him All–State honors for the second year.

Kade Ewalt had a consistent season and improved his scoring average over last year by a full two shots. He was inside the top–10 in every tournament and won the Miles City Invitational with a 74. He had two 3rd place finishes and earned All–State honors with a 9th place finish at State. He credited his solid season with “good coaching and putting in the time during the winter and summer to improve.” 

Jace McNeil had two top–10 finishes on the year highlighted by a 72 at the Hardin Invite where he finished in 2nd place. He finished 28th at State and said, “This year was special. We fought harder this year.”

Freshman Eli Weisenberger had two top–10 finishes on the year including a low round of 78 at the Billings Invitational. He finished 36th at State and said his goal at the beginning of the year was to compete at State.

On Monday before a victory lap through Laurel escorted by the Laurel Volunteer Fire Department, the Loco team said their accomplishment hadn’t really set in yet. And maybe it won’t, because with the entire team returning next year they are already poised to make history with a fourth consecutive State championship.

 

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Monday, December 16, 2019
Corinthian Lodge No. 72, AF&AM, first & third Monday, 7:30 p.m., Masonic Temple, Laurel Masonic Temple, 9900 Airport Road (except July-August)
Tuesday, December 17, 2019
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Tuesdays, Noon, Beartooth Grill, 305 1st Ave. S.

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