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JJ Morris and Ollie Hundere like playing at the Links because they say it’s a relaxed course without a dress code (and with great views).

Tanner O’Brien takes second overall at district tournament

Tanner O’Brien, a member of the Teton High golf team, placed second overall in Tuesday’s wet and windy district golf tournament in Rexburg and will go on to play in the state tournament in Twin Falls on May 13 and 14.

The golf team has tripled since its first season, growing from only six members in 2017 to over 20 now.

“The kids that have stuck with it have all seen improvements,” said Coach Megan Bybee, who is also the district director of curriculum. “They’ve also built relationships with other teams.”

This season the team has attended five tournaments as well as one unofficial dual with North Fremont. With valley snow hindering outdoor sports, the team members practiced their form in the Driggs Elementary gym until April, and they played at the first tournament of the season before hitting a single ball outside.

The team practices at the Links in Driggs, with assistance from the Huntsman Springs golf pros. Last week Teton won at its home course against its district opposition, Sugar and South Fremont.

At tournaments, the team can only bring five golfers, which has kept practices interesting as players jockey for varsity spots. To determine who was going to district this week, the team played nine holes at the Links on Monday, and ended up sending Tanner O’Brien, Seamus O’Connor, Jack Jensen, Kamden Schroeder, and Luke Gentry.

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Simon Jayo and Hunter Black move on to the next hole at practice the day before the district tournament.

“Choosing spots three through five is always a tough decision,” said high school science teacher and coach Dan Romano. “There’s competition in the ranks. You go with who’s playing well that week and who can make it to the tournament. There are no hard feelings though. You’re competing with your teammates, but everyone still wants to see good golf being played.”

In 2018, Teton won district and advanced to state. This year the team took second behind Sugar.

”We’re very proud of the team, it was a cold, rainy day and they represented Teton well,” Bybee said. “We’re also excited for Tanner. He worked really hard last summer and this spring and it’s fantastic to see him earn a spot in the state tournament next week.”

While the team has two female members, one girl just broke her collarbone and the other recently underwent foot surgery.

“So we’re hardcore recruiting girls for next year,” Bybee said.

“If we had a team of five girls, we’d definitely get to state,” Romano added.

The coaches are optimistic about the growth of the team; no one is graduating out of the program, and with golf being such a popular sport among adults in the valley, they expect more kids to be drawn in.

“I think golf is one of the few truly lifelong sports we have in the valley,” Bybee said. “It’s as much about personal progress as it is about competition, and it’s also an awesome social thing.”

She added that with no referees watching every player’s move, golfers are expected to uphold the rules of the game and resolve disputes with the people they’re playing against.

“We have a good team,” Romano said. “They’re good, respectful kids.”

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