Panther golf season starts today


Getting an early start to the season, the Powell High School golfers kicked off practice on Monday and will host the first tournament of the year today (Thursday) and Friday. The fall season started a week earlier this year and will run for only five weeks.

“I am very excited about the upcoming season as we had a number of returning players that really put some time into their game this summer,” said head coach Troy Hildebrand.

“Two years ago, we were a very young team and we were working to break 100,” Hildebrand said. “Last season, the guys had all matured and gained some experience and we were able to post some rounds in the upper 80’s and consistently shot in the 90’s. With the work this summer, I fully expect this team to have a couple guys shooting around 85 each week if things go well. We are fortunate to have our top six boy players from last year returning.”

The team will have four seniors: Treven Keeler, Kacey Creed, Wesley Patrick and Ethan Follett.

“[Keeler] has been a varsity player the past three years and has improved each year,” Hildebrand said. “He has matured a great deal and really played well to end last spring. I look for him to be an important piece for us this season.”

As for Creed, he “has played some varisty and some JV over his first three years and like [Keeler] has just gotten better each year,” Hildebrand said. “He will be battling for a varsity spot all season.”

Patrick, meanwhile, “just picked the game up a couple years ago and has gained a lot of experience over those seasons,” said Hildebrand. “He is becoming more and more comfortable on the course all the time.”

Follett is new to golf this fall and “we’ll have to see how he progresses throughout the season,” the coach said. “He has a great attitude and is working hard to pick up the game.”

For juniors, the boys team has three: Rob Sessions, Reece Hackenberg and Bennett Walker.

Sessions will be in his third season as a varsity player.

“He took a giant step forward last year and this summer he worked at the course and grew quite a bit,” Hildebrand said. “His game looks very good right now and I think he is ready to make another big move. The mental side of golf is the area that I am looking to see new growth in [Sessions] this year.”

Hackenberg is also entering his third year on varsity and “has grown quite a bit as well,” Hildebrand said. “[Hackenberg] played baseball this summer so he is just now starting to round back into form and I expect his best golf to be ahead. [Hackenberg] has been very steady for us and I love his attitude and approach to the game.”

Walker “was able to play quite a bit this summer and he has really sprouted up as well,” Hildebrand said. “I expect him to play with more confidence this season and he really has developed the tools to shoot some quality scores for us.”

The sophomores on the team include Crandell Sanders and Kason Cannon.

“[Sanders] easily played the most

tournament golf of anyone this summer as he competed in over 10 tournaments between Wyoming and Montana,”

Hildebrand said. “That will be great experience for him to draw on this season. He is a true golf junkie and ... works very hard to figure out why things are happening and how to fix them. He is a real student of the game and I expect him to have a very good season.”

Cannon joined the team last spring and “really found an enjoyment for the game,” Hildebrand said. “He has improved a great deal and he is working hard each day to figure things out. I believe that he will make another big step forward over the next five weeks.”

On the girls team, Powell currently has just two sophomores: Mycah Wainscott and Kaitlyn Church.

Wainscott started playing with the team last spring and really showed promise, Hildebrand said.

“She was able to put in a solid summer of playing and taking some lessons and she looks very good so far this week. She is really figuring some things out and is hitting the ball very well,” he said. “As she gains more and more tournament experience she will improve very quickly.”

Church picked up valuable experience as a freshman.

“Now she seems ready to start competing a little more in tournaments and is really figuring out how to get around the course more effectively,” Hildebrand said. “[Church] has a great attitude and has worked hard to improve.”

The PHS home golf invitational will start today (Thursday) at 1 p.m. and resume at 8 a.m. on Friday.

“It is a great opportunity for our players to get to play at home to start the season,” Hildebrand said. “We should feel comfortable with the course and I hope we can come out and put together two solid days as a team. We still have a lot of underclassmen but we have enough experience to draw on that we can all expect some level of success. The first tournament of every season is a challenge but I think we are all looking forward to this week.”

Because of qualifying and/or work commitments, Powell will have both Wainscott and Church playing for the girls’ team and Creed, Hackenberg, Sessions, Walker and Sanders making up the boys’ varsity team.

Eleven other schools and around 100 players are expected to compete, including five 4A teams (Sheridan, Gillette, Thunder Basin, Kelly Walsh and Natrona).

The Class 3A West Conference Tournament is set for Sept. 7-8 in Cody at the Olive Glenn Golf Course, with state in Douglas Sept. 15-16.