By Maria Wyllie
Explorebigsky.com Editorial Assistant
ENNIS – The Lone Peak High School boys’ varsity golf team finished first in the team competition at the Montana High School State Class C Tournament in Ennis on May 22, bringing LPHS its first state championship title. But Mother Nature made it no easy task.
Heading into the second day of play, cold temperatures, cloudy skies and sustained 30 mph winds played mayhem with the golfers’ games.
“It was an extra element the players weren’t really prepared for,” said head coach Mike King.
The players also battled nerves on the course, knowing they could be the first team to bring home a championship win for LPHS.
“I coached them along the way, but it ultimately came down to them and their determination and will to win,” King said of the team. “For me, it was gratifying to see them fight the challenges and come out on top.”
They finished 7 strokes ahead of Chinook, the second place team, and 44 shots ahead of third place Fairview.
Defending individual state champion and team captain Tate Tatom, an LPHS sophomore, finished first for the boys, winning soundly by 18 strokes. He finished with an even par round of 72 for a two-day, 2-over-par total of 146.
Despite the adverse conditions, Tatom remained in control, both mentally and physically. “He might be only a sophomore, but he played an unbelievable round of golf,” King said. “He was the rock of the team.”
Prior to the tournament, Tatom said he doubted himself, wondering if he would be able to defend his title. But when he won by 18 strokes, his confidence was restored and he realized just how strong his game is.
Aiming to compete on the college level, Tatom will spend this summer playing in individual tournaments around the country to improve his game and gain experience on different courses.
The House triplets, also sophomores at LPHS, all finished in the top 15, helping boost the team to victory. Trevor House shot a two-day total of 173 to finish in 7th place, Quinn shot 179 to finish 11th, and Griffin posted a 182 to place 15th.
“It was pretty awesome,” Tatom said. “I really enjoyed getting to watch the triplets excel under pressure and win a state championship as a team.”
One player short, the LPHS girls’ team headed into the tournament with just three players – Tehya Braun, Gabrielle Gasser and Janie Izzo – and finished sixth overall. Captain Tehya Braun, a sophomore, finished in fourth place for the individual competition.
“For her to have her career-best finish at state was really cool to see,” King said. “She’s had the ability and just needed to prove it to herself, and she did.”
Braun said she was having so much fun, she was relaxed throughout the game.
“I think being in the [championship] group really helped my game, because I loved all of the girls I was playing with,” Braun said. “All of a sudden I was making all of my shots.”
From an experience standpoint, King said it was impressive for all three of the girls to qualify for states, considering each had just picked up a club for the first time last year.
King said the girls showed promise, especially being so young, and he expects them to be more competitive next year. Molly Sharr, a sophomore on the JV team, will join them next season.
For the boys, beating the competition on a day when they didn’t even play their best was a confidence booster. “They are only going to build on this year’s performance,” King added.
“Next year, we’d like to win by a lot more than seven strokes as a team,” Tatom added. “And I’d like to win my third straight championship.”
The school celebrated the victory at an awards assembly on May 24, where King and assistant coach Mark Wehrman recognized each player’s accomplishments. The teams encouraged middle school students to begin practicing so they can continue to build a strong program.