The 2021 prep golf season is underway for Laramie High School. Some leaders were lost to graduation, but there’s plenty to build upon in the new season.

LHS returns three girls and four boys with experience from last year’s varsity tournaments.

Head coach Carlos Mellizo is in his second season leading the program and admits this fall has a different feel to it.

“It’s reflected in every part of our schedule. We have two-day invites versus one-day invites. The COVID protocols have changed and have sort of loosened for us this fall, so that makes things a little bit easier, but we’re still vigilant.”

He knows that could change at any moment, but it’s not dampening his excitement.

“It does feel very nice to be back out on the course. We have a lot of kids out and a lot of enthusiasm, so it feels great to be out here.”

The Plainsmen are guided by senior Jackson McClaren, who is the defending 4A champion. As a junior, McClaren won the title by two shots last fall at 3 Crowns Golf Course in Casper. That helped the Laramie boys finish fifth in the team race.

Other returns include seniors Colter Harvey and Caden McFate, as well as sophomore Colin Suloff.

Mellizo said about the Plainsmen, “We lost a couple of strong seniors last year. We’re going to be rebuilding a little bit, but we do have a returning state champion… We have a nice outlook on the boys’ side as far as experience goes.”

The LHS girls’ team is led by senior Emma Master and juniors Grace Kordon and Samantha Kitchen. Those three have been playing varsity golf over the past few years, and all of them played at last year’s state tournament.

Mellizo said of the girls’ squad, “It’s nice to have those three back, but we do have some work to do to rebuild the program a little bit, especially in the deeper positions.”

KOWB’s David Settle talked with Harvey and Kordon in the video at the top of this story about the new golf season, what they’re looking forward to, what they’ve been working on, and even the team outlook for this season.

The head coach also sees 2021 as a very competitive year in Class 4A golf.

“There’s a lot of good players and a lot of good teams from every part of the state. We have our work cut out for us.”

The early focus for Laramie High School golf is the quality of ball contact and the short game, according to Mellizo.

“Kids come out, and they hit a lot of balls, but we want to make sure they’re practicing the right way, and having a focused practice hitting session when they’re out here doing that. (We’re) working on our chipping, our 10, 20, 30, or 40-yard chips, and trying to get up-and-down, two-putting on the greens. You know, things like that, that really saves us a lot of strokes when we get into tournaments.”

The Plainsmen opened with a strong performance at the Wheatland Invitational last Thursday and Friday. McClaren finished in first-place by 14 shots and helped LHS win the boys’ team title by 22 strokes.

The Lady Plainsmen took second place. They had three players finish in the top nine. Kitchen was fifth, while senior Emma Welniak placed seventh, and Kordon came in ninth.

LHS has tournaments in Rawlins and Torrington in the next week. They’re hoping to add a tournament closer to home in week four.

The 4A West State Qualifier will be in Evanston on Sept. 9 and 10.

The 2021 Class 4A State Golf Championships are in Jackson on Sept. 17 and 18.

The 2021 LHS golf roster:

Seniors = Colter Harvey, Emma Master, Jackson McClaren, Caden McFate, Katelyn Miller, Emma Welniak, Heidi Welniak.

Juniors = Aiden Buchanan, Kiona Hufford, Samantha Kitchen, Grace Kordon, Tayton Moore, Jesse Prather, Brayden Williams.

Sophomores = Donovan Applehans, Eli Berryhill, Jairah Coffin, Joe Coast, Payton Killpack, Jace Moniz, Colin Suloff, James Trask, Noah Utton.

Freshmen = Andrew Ballard, Alexander Gillette, Emily Gull, Kanon Hufford, Declan Killian, Henry Kordon, Eli Maki, Terry Nunnaly, Cole Petersen.

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