CHADRON — The Sidney boys golf team’s top goals coming into this season were to win a conference championship and qualify for the Class B state tournament.
The Red Raiders took care of the first goal Monday, cruising to a win in the Western Conference meet, and now they feel even better about their chances of accomplishing their second goal — earning a state berth.
Bolstered by a first-place performance by senior Austin Miller, Sidney fired a 319 to win its first conference title in years. Three other Red Raiders also cracked the top 10.
“As a coach, you love to see the twinkle in their eyes when they come in and get their medal and know that they’ve played well and played to the best of their abilities,” Sidney coach Chuck Christensen said. “Hopefully, it continues from here.”
Christensen, whose team has been making steady progress throughout this season, knew the Red Raiders had the potential to challenge for a spot in the top two. Sidney, though, might have performed even better than he had expected. He was impressed with how all of his golfers stepped up against some tough competition.
“The kids were really excited,” Christensen said. “Having four kids in the top 10 was great.”
The Red Raiders were led by Miller, who shot a career-low score of 71 to win the meet by five strokes. Scottsbluff’s Andrew Holloway took second with a 76.
Christensen said he couldn’t be more proud of Miller.
“He has been working on his game for the last four years, and he’s figured it out in the last week that he doesn’t have to hit every shot perfect — he can manage his game and still score,” Christensen said. “He’s got the confidence now that he can do it, and that’s made all the difference in the world.”
Christensen said Miller’s short game was particularly effective Monday.
“From 100 yards in, his game was as good as I’ve seen him do in four years,” he said.
Christensen also liked what his saw from his other golfers, including Taylor Barton, a junior who placed third with a 77.
“He’s been steady the last two years,” Christensen said. “He doesn’t get frustrated. If he has a bad score, he just puts it behind him and moves on. He played very well today.”
Ryan Lococo, a freshman, added a sixth-place finish with an 84 for Sidney. Red Raider senior Josh Estrada also came up big, carding an 87 to place 10th.
As solid as Sidney performed Monday, Christensen hopes his team improves even more before the district tournament later this month. The Red Raiders will compete again Thursday in the Gering Invite, which starts at 9 a.m. at Monument Shadows Golf Course.
“[Monday’s performance] gives us a lot of confidence that maybe we can get into the top three at districts and qualify for state – that’s their ultimate goal,” he said.
Scottsbluff’s runner-up performance Monday was spearheaded by Holloway’s second-place finish. Two other Bearcats also finished in the top 10. Michael Hadden was fifth with an 83, and Curtis Welsh was seventh with an 84.
“It wasn’t a great day, but it wasn’t bad either,” Scottsbluff coach Mike Klein said. “It was just one of those days when we didn’t get off to a very good start. Things got better as the day went on, but Sidney played very good.”
Gering finished third in the team standings with a 355. Colton Keller led the Bulldogs with a fourth-place finish with an 81. Reggie Reyes also placed in the top 10, taking eighth with an 85.
The other golfer who placed in the top 10 was Alliance’s Nick Maser, who took ninth with an 87.
Sidney 319, Scottsbluff 331, Gering 355, Alliance 366, Chadron 371, Mitchell 379, Crawford NS.
Individual Top 10
1, Austin Miller, Sidney, 71. 2, Andrew Holloway, Scottsbluff, 76. 3, Taylor Barton, Sidney, 77. 4, Colton Keller, Gering, 81. 5, Michael Hadden, Scottsbluff, 83. 6, Ryan Lococo, Sidney, 84. 7, Curtis Welsh, Scottsbluff, 84. 8, Reggie Reyes, Gering, 85. 9, Nick Maser, Alliance, 87. 10, Josh Estrada, Sidney, 87.
Scottsbluff—Andrew Holloway 76, Michael Hadden 83, Curtis Welsh 84, Koy Polthoff 88, Grant Lacey 96.
Alliance—Parker Cyza 99, Ryan Taylor 90, Rennie Sailor 97, Devan Oligmueller 92, Nick Maser 87.
Chadron—Hunter Hageman 87, Alec Burk 91, Brenton Bauerkemper 97, Josh Wild 96, Trevor Hinn 102.
Mitchell—Taran Braman 106, Peyton Briggs 99, Brandon Karpen 93, Forrest Sanabria 93, Luis Panduro 94
Gering—Colton Keller 81, Reggie Reyes 85, Austin Kaufman 91, Kyle Hemphill 98, Alex Lupher 104