Loco boys take third at Eagle Rock, head to Divisionals

By: 
CHRIS MCCONNELL
Outlook staff writer

The Loco boys’ golf team is heading to Divisionals today after a solid season that saw them take first in two conference tournaments and second in the other three, as well as having the individual medalist, Paul O’Neil, in two events.
In the final tournament at Eagle Rock in Billings on Thursday, O’Neil shot even to take third individually. The team finished third behind Billings West and Billings Central.
Carson Hackmann shot 81; Ryan Kallem, 86; Cash Golden, 90 and Isaiah Broyles had 101.
Jaren McNeil and Kade Ewalt shot 84 and 88, respectively for the JV squad.
Coach Jim O’Neil said, “Paul continues to play good golf […] birdieing two of his last three holes on a cold and windy day.”
Keli Hodges led the girls team with a 90, which matched her personal best on the season.
“The girls showed an incredible amount of strength and toughness, shooting their low round of the year (407) which is 13 strokes better than their previous best,” coach O’Neil said.
Elise Shovar added a 103; Lexie Harper, 106 and Madi Cooney shot 108.
Friday’s scheduled conference finale at Laurel Golf Club was a rainout.
On Monday the boys’ JV team competed in Livingston in what O’Neil called “horribly windy conditions.”
Strong winds are par for the course at Livingston Golf and Country Club and O’Neil made special mention of Kade Ewalt, who posted an 80.
“Kade shot a wonderful round of golf in winds that gusted up to 40 mph. Brandon Wagner also played very well,” shooting an 85,” he said.
Isaiah Broyles had a 94, Landen Gradwohl shot 102 and Wyatt Tschacher finished with a 126.
Now the Loco golfers head to Hardin for Divisionals where two team will advance to State. The only real competition for the boys’ team appears to be Billings Central who bested them in three of the five conference invitationals. Laurel finished ahead of BC in one of the two non-conference tournaments, giving the season’s head-to-head advantage to BC at 4-3.
The Locos are looking to even the match tomorrow by winning Divisionals.
Coach O’Neil said the team has been working hard on drills that assistant coach Shawn Hackmann implemented, and said, “we are taking it to the course this week. We had putting, chipping and pitching, short iron and tee-shot drills to develop skills, and Shawn and I can see the improvement.”
O’Neil has been impressed with the girl’s team this year.
“The girls are gritty and getting better all the time.”
The top 15 individuals and top two teams at the divisional tournament qualify for state and O’Neil said the girls’ team has a real shot to get individuals, or the entire team, to State at Sidney.
“The girls are ahead of where I thought they would be and may qualify as a team. They practice hard and are positive and mentally tough. They have raw and untapped ability.”
The Divisional team starts with Paul O’Neil, who finished the regular season with a team leading 73.4 scoring average and a team best 69 for his low round, which he posted in two tournaments. Freshman Carson Hackmann was second with a 77.8 and had 72 as his low round. Ryan Kallem and Cash Golden were the other two Loco golfers who competed in all seven varsity tournaments, averaging 83.8 and 84.6 for the season.
Kade Ewalt rounds out the traveling team with an 85.8 average and Isaiah Broyles is the alternate.
All four members of the girls’ team are traveling to Hardin tomorrow.
Keli Hodges and Elise Shover competed in all varsity events this year and averaged 98.6 and 99.8. Hodges posted a personal best 90 in two tournaments and Shover’s low round was 93.
Lexi Harper had 106 and Madi Cooney had 108 as low rounds for their seasons.

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