The Class AA State golf tournament begins Thursday at 10 a.m. at Helena’s Bill Roberts Golf Course.
By the time play wraps up on the two-day tournament on Friday afternoon, the Butte High boys are hoping to hoist the championship trophy.
The Bulldogs, who set a school record with a 296 at the Butte Country Club three weeks ago, aren’t the favorite heading to Helena. That title belongs to two-time defending champion Billings West.
Starting with a third-place finish at the season-opening Great Falls Invitational, however, the Bulldogs have proven week after week that they are contenders to pick up a trophy. That includes the one for first place.
Butte High, which won the Sept. 10-11 tournament at the Old Works and Butte Country Club, placed third behind West and Billings Skyview at last week’s Bozeman Invitational. That tournament included every team from the Eastern AA.
The Great Falls tournament included all 14 Class AA teams.
Butte High, which placed sixth at state last year, heads to Helena with four of its five boys boasting experience at the State tournament. Senior Trey Hoagland is a returning All-State player after taking ninth at last year’s tournament in Bozeman.
Sophomores Will Hoagland and Isaiah Weldon also played for the Bulldogs a year ago, as did junior Houston Green. Eric Fogerty is making his first appearance at state after a solid senior season.
Each member of the Butte High boys’ team has showed the ability to go into the low 70s throughout the season.
With Sean Benson playing golf for Montana Tech, a new individual champions will be crowned. Playing for Billings Senior a year ago, Benson claimed medalist honors.
Joey Moore of Billings West and Payton Stott of Billings Skyview finished one shot off the pace last year. They lead a strong contingent of contenders into the season finale.
West is also the two-time defending champion on the girls’ side. On paper, the Bulldogs aren’t the state title contenders they have been the last four years, when they placed second three times.
The Bulldogs, though, are looking to return home with at least one All-State player.
Junior Alexis Williams will be making her third trip to State. She has been a fixture in the top 10 of tournaments this season. The top 15 earn All-State recognition.
Sophomore Sadie Starcevich will be making her second trip to State. Junior Katelyn Alley and sophomore Kelliann Neary will be making their first.
Kalispell Glacier’s Teigan Avery is the defending champion. Hayden Flohr of West is also returning for another shot at the title.
Friday’s round begins at 8 a.m.