TORRINGTON – The Torrington Lady Trailblazer golf team is coming off a one-stroke win over Buffalo at the east regional tournament and are looking for the top prize at the state tournament this weekend.
The Torrington girls, who took fourth at the state tournament last season, are no stranger to the podium this fall. They have finished in the top-three as a team in each of the five tournaments they have competed in, including first-place finishes in Wheatland, Rawlins and at the regional tournament last weekend in Wheatland by one stroke.
“(The conference tournament) should really show them that each and every stroke does count, no matter if you are first, placing in the top-10 or rounding out our team scores,” coach Jeff Halley said. “They all matter at this point.”
Throughout the season, the Lady Blazers have averaged a two-day score of 567. Their best tournament as a team came at the Cheyenne Central Invitational, when they posted a 536. The Torrington girls are a second-round team, dropping their score, on average, by more than 17 strokes from the first day to the second day.
Caleigh Essert, who took second at state as a freshman and third as a junior, has been leading the charge for the Lady Blazers all fall. She has won all five tournaments that the Lady Blazers have been in this fall, averaging a two-day score of 151. The junior has consistently shot in the 70’s, with seven of her 10 rounds coming in less than 80.
“Caleigh has had a great fall. She has put in the time to be great, and it has really shown this season,” Halley said. “She realized that her biggest competition is Macy Jacobson from Lander, who is the two-time defending champ… If (Essert) can take care of business for two days, she has the talent to finally break through and win it.”
Behind Essert, several Torrington girls have had a solid season. Kaylee Wilson, Laura Halley, Jenna Kaufman and Audrey Perry have all finished in the top-10 in at least one tournament. Looking at season averages, Halley is the second-best for the Lady Blazers, averaging a two-day score of 206.8. On average, she trims her score by more than 12 strokes from the first round to the second round.
Wilson rounds out the top three, on average, for Torrington, averaging a two-day score of 216.5. From the first day to the second day, Wilson averages dropping exactly 10 strokes. Coming in a half-stroke behind Wilson in the two-day average is Kaufman (217). Like the golfers ahead of her, Kaufman drops her score by 3.5 strokes from day one to day two. Rounding out the girls golf team is Audrey Perry and Jade Reinhardt, who average two-day scores of 228.6 and 234.25, respectively.
“For a team title, it really will take a full team effort… Laura, Kaylee, Jenna and Audrey all have put together good days and when one of them struggles, one of the other girls is usually there to cover her up,” Halley said. “Hopefully, we will have two or three of them battling for a top-10 finishing and a couple of good, solid scores to help out a low round from Caleigh.”
As mentioned, four golfers outside of Essert have reached the top-10 in at least one tournament this fall. Halley and Wilson have both placed in the top-10 three out of five times and Kaufman and Perry each did the same in one tournament.
Looking at where the Lady Blazers would stack up against scores from the 2015 state golf tournament, because the 2016 tournament was limited to one day due to weather, Torrington’s average of 567 would take the top spot. The best team-score two years ago was Cody’s 584.
In the individual race, Essert’s season average this year would hand her the top spot two years ago by 13 strokes. Halley would be just outside the top-10 at 13th, while Wilson would be sitting 18th.
The Blazers boys will not be able to compete for a team title at state because they do not have enough golfers. That being said, a couple Blazer boys are poised for a solid individual finish.
Jordan Malm has been the best boys golfer this fall, averaging a two-day score of 166.2. He has placed in the top-10 in two tournaments this season, including a third-place finish at regionals last weekend.
“On the boys side, Jordan is peaking at the right time,” Halley said. “He started the season playing well, then he got in a slump, but now he seems to have worked his way out of that last week and could be in the hunt for a top-10 finish.”
Behind Malm, Cameron Murphy and Wyatt Lackman have done their fair share of golfing for the Blazers this fall. Murphy has one top-10 finish in 2017 and averages 174 strokes each tournament, while Lackman turns in an average two-day score of 208.
Due to weather, the state golf tournament schedule was adjusted. The first round was completed Thursday after press time, with the second round set to start today (Friday) at 9 a.m. in Douglas.
“Douglas isn’t a long course, but it is a technical course that if you don’t keep the ball in play, there are a lot of dangers that can cause problems – between the trees, water and OB – much like playing on our own back-nine,” Halley said. “Hopefully we’ll have the confidence to play well on that type of course.”
Take a look at how the girls have done so far this season, as they have their eyes on a team state title.