Coming off top-four finishes at last week’s state qualifier, Laramie High School golf is set for the state championships in Jackson this weekend.

Both Laramie teams finished fourth in Evanston last Thursday and Friday. Thanks to that, the entire squads get to play at the state golf tournament.

Laramie head coach Carlos Mellizo believes they’re in a good spot heading into state.

“We’re playing our best golf at this time of year, and that’s what you want. We made some improvements across the board in our driving off the tee, and certainly our short game. We worked a lot on that, inside 100 yards, and really inside 60 yards. We know there’s a lot of strokes you can save that way. We’re going to really try to minimize our mistakes around the green and try to capitalize on those opportunities to two-putt when we can.”

The Plainsmen placed fifth a year ago, while the LHS girls took ninth.

Leading the boys will be defending 4A state champ, Jackson McClaren. The senior won the title in Casper at 3 Crowns Golf Course a year ago. Now, he’ll be trying to win a second straight championship to close out his prep career.

KOWB’s David Settle talked with Jackson about being the defending champ, if there’s any pressure in that, playing two different courses, what the competition will be like, and his strategy towards winning a second in a row.

Mellizo calls McClaren a really nuanced golfer, and he feels with Jackson’s experience in a lot of places, that will help him this weekend.

“I think he’s well-equipped to deal with this challenge. He hasn’t played any of these courses, either, and it will be interesting to see how he deals with that, but I’m confident. He’s just very thorough in his preparation. I think he sticks to what he can control; doesn't get too extended in thinking about stuff that is sort of beyond his control; getting too noisy with his thought process. I really like his chances to contend.”

One notable difference in this year’s event is Class 4A will be playing two different courses in Jackson. Friday’s 18 holes are at Snake River Sporting Club, while Saturday’s final round will be at Shooting Star Golf Course.

Mellizo finds this an exciting opportunity, but he also said it’s obviously daunting.

“These courses are generally not available to the teams to play on, so it’s a real treat that we get to see these courses, but, yeah, what a challenge to go and have to play a brand new course one day, and turnaround and do it the next. We’re looking at yardage books, and we’ve got some virtual options to kind of see what these courses look like. There’s no practice round on either of these, and we’re limited in how we can even go and see the course prior to competition, so that is a real challenge.”

In addition to McClaren, playing for the Plainsmen will be Caden McFate, Colter Harvey, James Trask, and Colin Suloff.

Teeing it up for the Lady Plainsmen will be Samantha Kitchen, Emma Welniak, Grace Kordon, Heidi Welniak, and Emma Master.

Mellizo added they’re going to keep the focus simple, “We’re working on our alignment. We’re working on our pre-shot routine and picking our targets, and that doesn’t change, no matter where you’re playing. We don’t want to cloud our thought process with too much noise.”

Both days of state championship play will start at 11 a.m.

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