The Butte High Bulldogs are looking for big things as they play host the Class AA State golf tournament Thursday and Friday at the Butte Country Club.
Butte High doesn’t enter the tournament as the favorite to win. That distinction belongs to the Bozeman boys and girls. The Bulldogs, though, feel like they are playing their best golf at the right time.
The Bulldog girls placed third in a tournament in Bozeman last week.
“The girls are playing well,” Bulldog coach Eric Mankins said. “I think we’re peaking at the right time.”
On the boys’ side, Mankins pointed to the 313 the Bulldogs fired on the final round in Bozeman.
“The AA boys this year has a lot of good, young talent,” he said. “We’ll try to hold our own. Looking at last week, we’re moving in the right direction.”
Junior Kaven Noctor leads the Bulldog boys into the tournament. He is coming off his best tournament of the season. Seniors Dan McCloskey and Carsten Quam are Nos. 2 and 3 for the Bulldogs. Junior Ty Insko and senior Kellen Lean round out the Butte High lineup.
Kodie Hoagland caps a promising freshman season as the No. 1 player for the Butte High girls. Junior Grace Luoma is No. 2, followed by sophomore Ella Prigge, sophomore Kennedy Lean and senior Emily Kelly.
Bozeman’s girls are the two-time defending state champions.
Laurel Ward is the defending individual champion. She will be playing No. 3 for the Hawks this week. Cora Rosanova, who finished fifth at state a year ago, is the No. 1 player for Bozeman. Teammate Annika Danenhauer, the runner up last year, is No. 2.
Great Falls Russell won the title on the boys’ side last year. Billings West and Great Falls High tied for second. Bozeman placed fourth.
CMR and Great Falls High were hit hard by graduation. West brings back four players from last year’s runner-up squad. Bozeman has rolled all season, led by Jordan and Justus Verge and Jr. Small.
For the first time, spectators will be allowed on the course to follow the action. The Montana High School Association is using this tournament and the Class A State tournament in Hamilton as a pilot program.
Mankins and Country Club officials have been working to set up a plan for the spectators on the course.
“The Butte country club has been great,” Mankins said. “They’re very accommodating.”
Spectators must pay $10 per day. They must also agree to a set of rules and wear a badge.
“We’re a little bit of the test pilots, but it’s good that golf is moving forward in Montana,” Mankins said. “It should have spectators. Parents should be able to watch their kids. Grandparents should be able to watch their grand kids.”
Play begins with a shotgun start at 10 a.m. each day, though play is often delayed by frost this time of year.
The boys will start on the front nine Thursday, while the girls begin on the back. That will be reversed for Friday.