WHEATLAND – The state runner-up trophy that the WHS girls golf team won in last year’s Wyoming state high school golf championship is an award that few schools ever get to lay claim to. For the Lady Bulldogs, it left only a sour taste in their mouths having missed being state champs by only three strokes.
A new year brought renewed hopes and aspirations and the sophomore trio of Lily Nichols, Bryley Waring and Macy Jones were in the top three places of almost every tournament they played in this season. And not in that order.
On days when Nichols had a subpar round, Jones would pick up the slack and move to the top of the leader board. On days when those two were declining, Waring was excelling. At the Class 3A Wyoming High School state golf tournament played in Lander, Wyoming, the triad of Nichols, Waring and Jones all placed in the top 10. Nichols placed third in state shooting a 168, Waring was in sixth place with a 191 and Jones placed eighth with a 197. Adding to the team and giving them the scoring totals they needed to place first in state were Lola Philo who shot a 208 and placed 13th, three spots out of an all-state medal and Kaylynn Heimsoth who shot a 217 and placed 16th.
“It’s a great feeling,” said head coach Tony Nichols. “With all the hard work the kids put in and to overcome the hurdle from last year and missing the top spot by three strokes, to see this is great. To have the kids come back and work their tails off all summer and have something to fight for and they knew it was within reach if they came out and played to their potential.”
Nichols said that after the first round and the girls doing well, he knew they could do it, but he also said that in two days everything can go well one day and fall apart the next. But falling apart wasn’t part of the girl’s makeup all year as they played with a quiet confidence and ran on an even keel.
Nichols who burned up the course with a 79 the first day lost 10 strokes in the second round. The good news was Waring who picked up 11 strokes on day two, Jones who picked up nine strokes and Philo who shaved four strokes from her first day total. According to Nichols, both Philo and Heimsoth each played the best two rounds of the year.
“It’s a lot of pressure on these kids and they really fought for each other,” Nichols said. “These five golfers were just like a family. On day one, both Waring and Jones felt bad not because they had bad rounds, but because they felt as if they let the team down, but they came back and played so well the second day.”
The good thing about the team is that it is only losing senior, Heimsoth to graduation next spring. The other four are only sophomores.
Lily Nichols who placed ninth in state last year moved up six spots to her third-place finish. She said that it hasn’t fully set in yet.
“We went in confident,” she said. “We knew who our competition was and that it was strong in Green River and Lovell. Lovell’s Erika Cook is only a sophomore and averages low 70s. We had a good run, and I think we can repeat because Lovell I don’t think has anyone coming up and Green River has a lot of seniors on their team. But we are going to come out stronger.”
Waring, who had shaved 11 strokes from her first day effort said that she thought it was a pretty important tournament and they all knew it.
“I knew it was going to be more important because last year we were only three strokes off,” Waring said. “It was so important that we pushed through. Hopefully to do it again is our goal. It’s going to take lots of practice and perseverance. It’s really a fun time and I love golfing with my team.”
Jones replied that she wanted to make a good showing and impress the community. She certainly has exceeded that goal.
“We can go back again if we just keep on playing for each other,” Jones said. “We just want to win and we’re going to be tough to beat. It’s how we feel about each other. I know most teams say they are like family, but we really are; we love each other. We are really good friends and really close. This feels amazing.”
Philo said, “It’s really exciting. I feel very lucky to be on this team. I think they’re probably the best people that I could ever ask to golf with and the best team I could have. They are very supportive and very fun. Hopefully our chances to repeat are 100%”
Heimsoth who is the lone senior and the anchor on the team said it was “pretty great” being on the team but that she’s sad to be graduating and no longer going to be with her teammates.
Wheatland finished with a 556 ahead of Green River by two strokes and Lovell by 21 strokes.
The WHS boys golf team also did well at the state tournament for being a very young team. Nichols said that he was amazed at how they kept their composure and was happy to see them have this experience under their belts.
Brecken Sandlian who golfed for the very first time this year finished at 31 with a 192. Dylan Nelson came in at 39 with a 199, Ethan Jackson was in at 69 with a 234, Wyatt Fitzwater – another first-year golfer came in at 71 with a 240 and Caden Davis came in tied at 72nd, shooting a 250.
The boys had a team score of 865 just ahead of Lyman and Rawlins and finished in 13th place.