A perfect season!

Lady Locos rout field to win third State title, 25th Class A tournament in a row
By 
Chris Mcconnell
Thursday, October 8, 2020
Laurel freshamn Alivia Webinger hits an approach to the 16th hole at Butte Country Club during the final round of the State Class A Championship. She hit nine 9–iron from 122 yards to three feet and made the birdie putt en route to finishing in second place individually. The Lady Loco golf team won their 3rd consecutive State title in record–breaking fashion. Outlook photo by Chris McConnell

Laurel freshman Alivia Webinger hits an approach to the 16th hole at Butte Country Club during the final round of the State Class A Championship. She hit 9–iron from 122 yards to three feet and made the birdie putt en route to finishing in second place individually. The Lady Loco golf team won their 3rd consecutive State title in record–breaking fashion. Outlook photo by Chris McConnell

Haylee Adams hits a bunker shot on 17 at Butte Country Club on Friday during the Class A State golf tournament on Oct. 2. The Lady Locos broke a 26–year–old Class A State scoring record on their way to their third straight title. Outlook photo by Chris McConnell

Haylee Adams hits a bunker shot on 17 at Butte Country Club on Friday during the Class A State golf tournament on Oct. 2. The Lady Locos broke a 26–year–old Class A State scoring record on their way to their third straight title. Outlook photo by Chris McConnell

In the fall of 2017 first year Laurel golf coach Jim O’Neil recruited two players from the Lady Loco softball team just to field a team for the year. There were four girls on the team and two qualified for the state tournament.

Fast forward to 2020 and the girls golf team has now won three State titles in a row, are 25–0 in Class A tournaments and on Friday broke the 26–year–old Class A State scoring record by nine shots.

The Lady Loco golf team finished off their season–long victory lap at Butte Country Club last Friday winning their third consecutive Class A State Championship by an astounding 96 shots.

Freshman Alivia Webinger was the State runner-up after shooting back to back 80s to finish seven shots behind Corvallis’ Macee Greenwood who shot 75–78. 2019 State Champion and 2020 Divisional medalist Hannah Adams finished in 3rd after rounds of 82–86. Haylee Adams was 4th after rounds of 84–85 and Breanna Jensen was 8th with 92–91. Molly Cooney just missed All–State honors (top–15) after shooting 102–98 to take 19th.

Webinger, who was playing BCC for the first time said she stuck to the game plan and didn’t worry too much about her scorecard during the tournament. “I was confident and tried to hit my targets. I wasn’t focused on my score,” she said.

While the golf course is short by modern standards, the green-side rough and false fronts proved a challenge for the field. Hannah said the course played well. “It wasn’t long and was in good condition but the greens were tough.” The club had aerated the greens the week before so they were bumpy in a few spots.

The Lady Locos’ average margin of victory on the year was nearly 80 strokes and the three juniors on the team; Hannah, Haylee and Jensen won every Class A tournament in 2018, 2019 and 2020, going 25–0 in regular season, Divisional and State tournaments. For sophomore Cooney and freshman Webinger this was their first State team title. Their two day total of 680 broke the Class A State scoring record by nine shots which was set by Whitefish and Sidney in 1994.

All five players were individual medalists in at least one tournament on the year with Hannah winning the Divisional tournament and tying for 1st at Eagle Rock with Jensen. Haylee won twice– at Hardin and Sidney–and Jensen won at Lake Hills and had the tie with Hannah. Webinger won at Old Works and Cooney won the only JV tournament she played in at Miles City.

Coach O’Neil said the four–pete is the obvious goal for next year but with all five players returning they have the potential to be one of the best high school teams ever. “We are good, but

Loco Boys

The boys were unsuccessful in their bid to win four State titles, finishing in 3rd behind Whitefish and Billings Central in a season that wasn’t up to the bar they set the previous three years.

They won three tournaments and finished runners–up in five before the 3rd place finish at State. For the average team this would count as a wildly successful season, but for the Locos program it felt like a bit of a let down.

Coach Shawn Hackmann said, “The 2020 Laurel High School Boys Golf season was filled with high expectations to win a 4th consecutive State Championship. There were tournaments such as the Laurel Invite that looked like we were on track to achieve this goal, while other tournaments were very up and down and displayed areas we needed to improve. Ultimately it was our team’s inconsistent short game play that made it difficult to win the 4th Championship. Normally, a 3rd place State trophy is a great accomplishment but I know our players had a 4th consecutive State Championship as their primary goal.”

The Locos had three All– State golfers with Carson Hackmann (the State runner–up in 2018 and 2019) taking 3rd with 72–76. Kade Ewalt was 12th after an 82–81 and Landen Gradwohl 14th with 84–81. Eli Weisenberger finished 39th after rounds of 90–94 and Trey Ewalt was 47th with 93–97.

Carson called it “a tough week” for the team and himself individually.

“I birdied the last two holes on Thursday and the first hole on Friday,” he said, “but just couldn’t make putts. Nothing really happened.”

He was medalist in five tournaments on the year, won the Eastern A Divisional tournament and never finished worse than second until State.

Coach O’Neil had high praise for Hackmann’s season. “Carson played the best and most consistent I’ve seen him play this year and I hoped the outcome would have been different.”

Golf had some unusual rules this year due to the covid restrictions, one of which was not being able to warm up on the driving range. This is an odd rule because players naturally have to be six feet apart or they’d get whacked with a club. Having to play together as a team all year was different from the norm as well. Normally the #1, 2, 3, etc. players from each school play together and in two–day tournaments they are grouped by score the second day. The advantage of this is the leaders know where they stand because there are no scoreboards on the course in high school golf. Knowing where you are in the tournament will affect strategy and how aggressive you may need to play to catch the leaders if you are behind. Some players (like most of the girls’ team) don’t care, but others, like Carson, want all the information they can get on the golf course.

“It’s good that we are able to support each other (as teammates playing together) but it’s tough not being with the leaders. Knowing where I was would’ve motivated me,” he said.

The sentiment was echoed by Coach Hackmann who said, “Playing together as a team at the State tournament was fun, but because our team is very competitive and is concerned about their teammates it proved to be a challenge. When you play with competitors from other teams you can focus primarily on your own game. When you are concerned about all of your teammates on each shot it can prove to be difficult to stay focused on your own game.”

Over the past four years the Loco boys have won 23 tournaments including three State Championships and two Divisional titles and were one of the most dominating teams at any class level. While the three seniors’ (Carson, Kade and Landen) LHS careers are over, the Loco boys golf program remains one of the best in the state with more championships on the way.

Upcoming Events

Monday, November 2, 2020
Mondays, 1:30 p.m., 201 1/2 E Main St.
Tuesday, November 3, 2020
1st and 3rd Tuesday, 6:30 p.m., Council Chambers
Wednesday, November 4, 2020
Wednesdays, 7 p.m., 201 1/2 E. Main St., Laurel
Thursday, November 5, 2020
First Thursday, 5 p.m., City of Laurel Council Chamber
Monday, November 9, 2020
2nd Mondays, 6:30 p.m., at Wood's Powr-Grip, 908 West Main St., use the west entrance, open to the public. 
Monday, November 9, 2020
2nd Tuesday, 6 p.m., Laurel Public Library

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