BOZEMAN — In Class AA state golf, Bozeman High and Gallatin High will enter as two of the golf programs looking to perform well at state.
Last year it was the Gallatin team that made waves at state thanks to the Verge brothers — Jordan and Justus — placing first and second along with a team title. But now it’s up to some different names to keep up the reputation of winning for the Raptors.
Enter senior Gavin Klein. Last year, he was in the number five spot on varsity; this year he’s the number one and he’s fit into his role beautifully placing inside the top five in every tournament this year.
“I practice hard this summer and my goal is to be one of the top golfers,” Klein said. “Hopefully I can go out there and put a couple of good rounds up at State.”
Filling the shoes of the aforementioned Justus and Jordan Verge, Stevie Voigt and Ramey Lloyd might have seemed like a daunting task but not to the poised Klein.
“I don't think it ever was ‘Hey, I got to play as good as a Verges or I got to fill any spots’,” Head Coach Matt Clark admitted. “He's Gavin Klein, and he's going to come in and he's going to play as Gavin Klein.”
On the girls side, senior Addiley Lloyd is no stranger to the spotlight and has proved the last handful of seasons that she is one of the best in the state with top four finishes this season in every tournament.
“I see Addiley as one of the best players in the state and she's going to be right in the mix, I think Thursday, Friday of this week,” Clark stated.
However, Addiley has yet to win a tournament in this high school season which has only fueled her desire to keep improving.
“You can always get better and you should never be satisfied and no matter what,” Lloyd stated. “You should keep practicing and getting better because you never peak…I hope you wouldn't peak in high school.”
Bozeman High finished third on the girls side last year at state and are back despite losing loads of talent. Billings West is the returning champion, and the Bears' Bella Johnson is back to defend her individual crown this week, as well.
For the boys side, Cooper Bourret and Nate Pailthorpe placed first and third in the Eastern AA Divisionals giving head coach Ryan Nelson confidence heading into state.
“They've been kind of battling back and forth all year and obviously, a one and three finish was pretty impressive,” Nelson said.
Bourret won his first high school tournament last week at the divisional tournament as only a freshman. The 14-yeard-old was so locked in that he didn’t even know he had won it until he waited for final scores to roll in.
“At the end, when I found out that I won, was shocked,” Bourret explained. “I was trying to just focus on my game.”
Among the other boys to watch is Butte High's Jack Prigge and Kalispell Glacier's Tyler Avery, who were separated by one stroke atop the leaderboard at the Western AA divisional.
The state tournament gets going this Thursday and Friday at Helena’s Green Meadow Country Club.