PC boys take second at state golf, Col. girls finish in fourth place

Mikaela Koski
Thursday, May 23, 2019
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            The Park City boys golf team, from the left: Tristen Johnstone, Austin Popp, and Tucker Johnstone.

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The Columbus Cougars, from the left: Coach Jill Buechler, Morgan Mayo, Cady Ekle, Karsen Marjerison, Trey Stampfel, Chloe Ketchum, Kodi Obert, and Coach Jeromey Burke.

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The Absarokee state golf qualifiers, from the left: Haley Richardson, Maggie Howes, and Andrew Espeland. 

For the second year in a row, the Park City Panthers have proven they are one of the best golf teams in the state.

At last week’s state meet, the three-man team of senior Austin Popp, senior Tristen Johnstone, and sophomore Tucker Johnstone took on a field of 85 competitors at Double Arrow Golf Course in Seeley Lake. The group put up a two-day, 36-hole team score of 527 (day one – 268, day two – 259), good for second place out of 19 teams. Manhattan Christian repeated with a 502-point first place finish.

Popp led the Panther team on both days of play. On the first day, he recorded a score of 84. The next day he was able to shave off one stroke on the back-nine to put up an 83. For the final meet score, he earned a 167 to tie with a golfer from Darby for second place.

Following Popp was Tristen Johnstone. During the first 18 holes, he shot a 91; the final day of play, he fought back to cut down four strokes and score an 87. Tristen’s final score was 178, good for a 17th place tie.

Rounding out the group was Tucker Johnstone. He also improved from the first day of play to the second, initially putting up a 93 and finishing with a day two score of 89. A total score of 182 ensured Tucker a spot in the three-way tie for 20th place.

Park City Head Coach Mark Rathbun said he was happy for the team.

“After the first day, we all didn’t really feel like we had done our best, but once the scores were tallied up for the first day and we were still in the hunt, we kind of refocused and believed that we could finish well,” Rathbun explained.

He noted that all he had to do was remind the boys to not dwell on bad shots and remain focused enough to play the game one stroke at a time, and they “did a great job grinding it out” and rising to the occasion.

Freshman Kendyll Story was the lone Park City Lady Panther to compete at state. After an initial score of 133, she dropped slightly for a day two score of 136. For the meet, Story recorded a two-round score of 269.

Rathbun said he was proud of Story, as she “went from never touching a golf club before practice started to competing at the state tournament.”

He commended three Park City girls – Story, sophomore Abby Hoffman, and freshman Halle Larsen – for trying a sport they had never played before and competing as well as they did throughout the season.

Rathbun is looking forward to watching all of the young Panthers develop their skills, improve, and be competitive next season.

“I will really miss our seniors, Austin and Tristen, as they were both a pleasure to work with, and I wish them all the best,” the Park City coach added.

Seven Panthers lettered during this golf season: Popp, Tristen and Tucker Johnstone, Story, Hoffman, sophomore Chason Fenton, and freshman Mason Rathbun.

Coach Rathbun extended his thanks to Laurel Golf Course, Stillwater Golf Course, and Par 3 Exchange for allowing the Park City team to use their facilities throughout the season.


The Columbus Lady Cougars also had a strong showing at their state meet last week. Class B state golf took place in Missoula; the girls played at Canyon River Golf Club, and the boys took on King Ranch Golf Course.

After putting up a four-person, 18-hole score of 442 during the first day of play, the team cut out 24 strokes on day two to add 418 for a total score of 860. The Cougars’ score landed the team securely in fourth place.

Senior Karsen Marjerison and junior Morgan Mayo led the Columbus group in tandem throughout the tournament. Both girls scored a 105 on day one, and during the second day, each put up a 104. The two-day total of 209 tied the girls at 22nd place.

Close behind was freshman Kodi Obert. After recording a 114 on the first day of play, she cut out 17 strokes during the next 18 holes to finish the final day of play with a score of 97. Obert finished in 24th place with a final score of 211.

Freshman Cady Ekle was next in the group, with a two-day score of 231. After a day one score of 118, she improved on the second day by shooting a 113. Ekle finished in a tie for 38th place.

Closing out the team was junior Chloe Ketchum. After a 123-stroke first day, she shot a 129 the second day for a total score of 252.

Columbus Head Coach Jeromey Burke felt the girls performed well. He noted the team had to play through some tough conditions on a course that “wasn’t really in shape to handle the state tournament, but they found a way to make it work.”

The group’s second day team score of 418 was the lowest 18-hole team score the Cougars have had all season, and Burke said it “was a fantastic way to end the season, as was a fourth place team finish.”

He commended Obert and Mayo for making significant improvements as the season progressed, and Obert’s score of 43 on the final nine holes of the meet was easily her best 9-hole round this year.

“Between Karsen, Morgan, Chloe, Cady, and Kodi, each person contributed at some point this postseason to contribute to the success we ended up having, and that’s something each one of them can be proud of,” Burke said.

He added that losing the leadership of lone senior Marjerison next year will be tough, as “she brought a work ethic and positivity that we’ll miss.”

Junior Trey Stampfel was the lone Cougar boy who played in the state meet. During the opening 18 holes, he shot a 91. The second day he fell behind a bit, putting up a 102 for a final score of 193.

Burke noted that although Stampfel struggled with his swing at times, it only caused one or two bad holes each day.

“On a tough course he nearly broke 40 each day, and his first day 91 was really a great score,” Burke explained.


Three Absarokee Huskies also closed out their seasons last week at state.

Junior Maggie Howes played a strong 36 holes. On the first day she shot a 111, but she cut down her second half score to a 106. Howes’s final score of 217 was good for 10th place at the meet.

Absarokee Head Coach Gregg Feddes explained, “Maggie put the exclamation point on it by taking 10th. It’s the first state medal for us since 2011.”

Sophomore Haley Richardson also took on the group of 54 state competitors. After a score of 141 on day one, she greatly improved on the second day by taking off 18 strokes for a day two score of 123. Richardson earned a final score of 264.

Fellow sophomore Andrew Espeland was the lone Absarokee boy to compete in the meet. On the first day he shot a 139, and day two brought an improved score of 125. Espeland ended the meet with a final score of 264.

Feddes was proud of the way all three of his golfers were able to improve on the second day of the meet.

As for next season, the Husky coach thinks things look bright: “All three of (the state qualifiers) will be back next year, and we are hoping to add some more to the list and compete for team awards in the future.”