Polson High School’s Matt Hobbs capped an excellent senior season on the golf links, earning a share of second place at the Class A State Golf Championships last Friday and Saturday at the Hamilton Country Club course.
Hobbs finished shot rounds of 74 and 71 to finish with a 145, the same score as three other golfers — Carson Hackmann of Laurel, Cameron Kahle of Whitefish, and Tristan Hanson of Hamilton.
Teamwise, head coach Bill Owen’s Polson boys finished seventh. Laurel won the title with a 597, followed by Hamilton, Stevensville, Frenchtown, Billings Central, Whitefish, Polson, Belgrade, Lewistown and Havre.
Prohibitive favorite Ryggs Johnston, the senior from Libby, was not on top of his game — yet he won his fourth consecutive state title by eight strokes over the quartet of runners-up. He carded rounds of 67 and 70, Saturday play hampered a bit by cooler weather.
The top 15 players earned Class A all-state honors.
Polson junior Cali Cannon tied for second place in the girls’ division with Karly Volk of Sidney. Cannon had rounds of 92 and 94 for a 186, while Volk shot 95 and 91. Polson was fifth with an 822, behind champion Laurel, Whitefish, Corvallis and Sidney.
Madyson Running Crane was the top finisher for the Ronan girls. She had rounds of 112 and 116 for a 228.
Hobbs said Tuesday during a break in his class schedule that is was not realistic to finish ahead of Johnston, and he was pleased with his overall play on the Hamilton course.
“I couldn’t have asked for much more,” Hobbs said, and his 71 Saturday was his best “high school” score. He carded a 68 in a non-school tournament.
“I was focusing on one shot to the next,” Hobbs said. “I hit 14 (of 18) greens the second day. “It was just ‘cozy’ pars.”
He’s considering playing college golf at Montana Tech in Butte next fall, while he majors in chemical engineering. Right now, his GPA is an impressive 3.94.
Last year, Hobbs also earned all-state honors, finishing eighth at Sidney.
Owen was pleased with Hobbs’ play and spoke about Johnston’s attributes.
“He’s arguably the best (high school) player we’ve ever had in Montana,” Hobbs said. “He made it hard for Matt to win a title.”
“Teamwise, we were down a little,” Owen said. “We lost one of our players.”
That was senior Calvin Nowlen, who had very tough luck at Hamilton. He was hit in the face by a shot by another player during Thursday’s practice round. That resulted in eight stitches at the ER around an eye, which swelled nearly shut. He could not wear a contact lens in the injured eye.
That was likely a factor when Nowlen hit another player’s ball midway through Friday’s first round of golf. For that, he was disqualified from play that day.
“He was one of my impact players, but he got to play the second day,” Owen said. “It was an accidental mistake … It was pretty impressive golfing the way he did.”
Polson had to use their No. 6 player’s team score, and that was freshman Jeff Devlin. He had rounds of 103 and 109 for a 212.
Junior Trey Kelley was the second best finisher for the Pirates, carding rounds of 85 and 83 for 168, good for a tie for 21st place. Junior Colby Devlin shot 90-93 for 183, finishing 63rd.
Cannon was pleased with her top-15 finish.
“I’ve never been all-state,” she said at school Tuesday. “My putting really saved me.” Her best round in her junior season was an 84.
Senior Amanda Farley tied for 28th (104-104, 208), followed by sophomore Esme Yarbrough (107-104, 211), sophomore Ellie Thiel (109-113, 222), and freshman Katelyne Druyvestein (116-108, 224).
Owen said he was very pleased with play of the Polson sophomore and freshman girls. Thiel was a medalist at the Divisional Meet.
The coach had some complimentary comments about Hobbs.
“He’s the hardest worker I’ve ever had. I’m really excited for him,” said Owen, who completed his 24th year as Polson golf coach, and plans to come back next season. “He has a chance to compete at the college level and get a good education. They don’t come any better than that boy, he’s a good model for my kids. He’s going to be missed.”
Farley “seems to have bad luck,” Owen said, “with poison ivy (on the course). “She’s just a great kid, fun to be around, a great sense of humor. We’re going to miss her, too.”
Laurel 597, Hamilton 625, Stevensville 659, Frenchtown 660, Billings Central 662, Whitefish 674, Polson 685, Belgrade 719, Lewistown 732, Havre 770.
Top 15 individuals
1, Ryggs Johnston, Libby, 67-70-137; t2, Carson Hackmann, Laurel, 72-73-145; t2, Cameron Kahle, Whitefish, 73-72-145; t2, Matt Hobbs 74-71-145; t2, Tristan Hanson, Hamilton, 75-70-145; 6, Nick Pasquarello, Laurel, 71-79-150; t7, Zach Taylor, Hamilton, 71-80-151; t7, Cash Golden, Laurel, 74-77-151; 9, Paul O’Neil, Laurel, 72-80-152; 10, Derek Wolff, Frenchtown, 76-78-154; 11, Zel Frost, Stevensville, 78-80-158; t12, Luke Schlimgen, Corvallis, 76-83-159; t12, Kade Ewalt, Laurel, 80-79-159; 14, Mason Pyron, Frenchtown, 84-76-160; t15, Ryan Adolph, Billings Central, 80-81-161; t15, Ivan Yazvac, Stevensville, 83-78-161.
POLSON – t2, Matt Hobbs 74-71-145; t21, Trey Kelley 85-83-168; , Calvin Nowlen [89dq]-86-175; 47, Colby Devlin 90-93-183; 63, Jeff Devlin 103-109-212.
Laurel (Lau) 726, Whitefish (Wf) 760, Corvallis (Cor) 782, Sidney (Sid) 811, Polson (Pol) 822, Hamilton (Ham) 826, Miles City (MC) 827, Havre 906, Lewistown 912.
Top 15 individuals
1, Tricia Joyce, Butte Central, 75-77-152; 2, Macee Greenwood, Cor, 78-79-157; 3, Ella Shaw, Wf, 88-85-173; t4, Hannah Adams, Lau, 89-87-176; t4, Haylee Adams, Lau, 92-84-176; t6, Ashtyn Swigart, MC, 86-93-179; t6, Megan Archibald, Wf, 89-90-179; 8, Keelee Storrud, Cor, 93-90-183; t9, Elise Shovar, Lau, 90-94-184; t9, Perry Widdicombe, BlgsC, 91-93-184; t11, Cali Cannon, Pol, 92-94-186; t11, Karly Volk, Sid, 95-91-186; 13, Lindsey Huber, Dillon, 96-91-187; t14, Aly Rose, Ham, 94-94-188; t14, Sammee Bradeen, Libby, 95-93-188.
POLSON – t11, Cali Cannon 92-94-186; t28, Amanda Farley 104-104-208; t35, Esme Yarbrough 107-104-211; t43, Ellie Thiel 109-113-222 (12rnd mean 114); t48, Katelyne Druyvestein 116-108-224 (10rnd mean 114.2).
RONAN – Madyson Running Crane 112-116-228; Macao Jackson 124-113-237; Kylee Neimeyer 129-114-243.