Belgrade is sending a record number of golfers to the state tournament following a strong performance at the Eastern AA Divisional.
The Panthers qualified all five girls and will have eight representatives in all after three boys also advanced Friday at Eagle Falls Golf Course in Great Falls.
“We were hoping for all 10, but we’re excited to have eight individuals represent Belgrade at the state tournament next week,” Belgrade head coach Mike Deming said.
All eight advanced as individuals, meaning Belgrade won’t qualify for a team score at state. Only the top four teams advanced to state followed by the top 10 individuals who did not qualify on a team.
“The boys were so close to qualifying as a team. We made a great run at it over two days,” said Deming. “We didn’t have the greatest day yesterday. We put ourselves a little bit too far behind to make up that big of strokes today, but we put in a big run against Bozeman for that fourth spot.”
Bozeman finished 13 strokes ahead of the Panthers, who had a team score of 675. Gallatin won the championship with a 568, while Billings Senior (614) and Billings Skyview (628) rounded out the top three.
Gallatin’s Jordan Verge won the individual title with a 134, while brother Justus was second with a 140.
Belgrade had two top 15 finishers in Jaxson Hinshaw and Jacob Maroney. Hinshaw had rounds of 78 and 84 to place 13th with a 163, while Maroney improved by one stroke on Day 2 to finish with a 163 (82-81) to place 14th.
Belgrade’s other state qualifier was Anthony Madison, who had rounds of 86 and 80 for a 166. The team was rounded out by Justin Garcia (184) and Colter Gee (193).
“I really liked their attitudes. They were positive,” said Deming. “There were some tough holes for them, but they held it together and put themselves in position to go into the state tournament.”
Belgrade’s girls also placed fifth in the team standings with a score of 819. Billings West won with a 675, while Billings Senior (690), Bozeman (697) and Gallatin (707) rounded out the top four.
Billings West’s Bella Johnson edged Billings Senior’s Lauren Mayala by one stroke, 159-160, to win the individual title.
While the Panthers didn’t have a girl earn all-conference honors by placing in the top 15, all five had a fairly consistent tournament.
“We played about what we needed to play to qualify for the state tournament. We didn’t play great, but we didn’t shoot ourselves out either,” said Deming. “We’ve been telling them to improve on Day 2, which we did. Almost all of the golfers improved on the second day from the first.”
Bella Anderson led Belgrade with a 191 following rounds of 97 and 94. She was followed by Leila Mamangun (103-102—205), Riley McMahon (109-102—211), Jordan Whitaker (111-107—218), and Brynn Butler (105-117—222).
“I’m very excited to have all five girls (at state). I think they worked hard,” said Deming. “I’m excited for Brynn and Riley as seniors getting the opportunity to go to the state tournament.”
The state tournament begins Thursday at Cottonwood Hills Golf Course in Bozeman. While they’re not eligible to score as a team, Deming feels it will be a good tournament for his golfers.
“I think that we have some individuals that are playing well and I know that they played solid at the divisional tournament, but they didn’t play great,” he said. “So if we can get them to play much better and just maybe better than their averages, I think they definitely can be in the top 15 at the state tournament on both sides.”