The Thompson Falls boys and girls golf coach Mike Bates continues to produce successful teams regardless of his team’s situation.
Bates, whose teams didn’t have enough participants to compete as a team, will now take three golfers to the Western Montana High School Association Class B-C Divisionals Tuesday at Old Works Golf Course in Anaconda.
Bates is confident his three competitors, Ethan Brown, Megan Baxter and Nate Oswald, will remain competitive in the Western Montana High School Association Class B-C Divisional Tournament.
Bates, who credits Bluehawks assistant coach Gary Thompson with being instrumental in the golfers’ development as they prepare for Divisionals, and possibly qualifying for the MHSA Class B-C state golf tournament.
“The kids go there, and they practice hard during every practice,” Bates said of his team’s effort. “Gary Thompson works with them a lot, and he’s a great coach. They just love to play, they love the game of golf, and that makes a huge difference when you get them out to practice. They just show them what they can do, and they go and do it. They just really love and respect the game that much.”
Ethan Brown, brother of successful Lady Bluehawks golfer Else Brown, continues to build on his success as a golfer along with Nate Oswald.
“I think both of them are really good, and Ethan made it to state last year, and he is a solid player,” Bates said. “Nate has also done a great job this year. He’s shown improvement and maturity, and I am not going to be surprised if he makes it.”
Bates said he felt his Bluehawks seem to peak at the right time.
The kids who qualify for state will finish in the top 15 for both the boys and girls golf formats.
“We always seem to have kids that start peaking at the right time going into Divisionals,” Bates said.
The Thompson Falls golf team has never been a team to look into the future. They’ve always taken a one game at a time approach towards competition.
“Our team doesn’t even talk about state, even though we know it’s coming,” Bates said. “That is not our focus right now. Our focus is to get through Divisionals, and state is an afterthought for us .”
Thompson Falls girls golfer Megan Baxter continues to balance both track and golf in the spring. Bates said she doesn’t have trouble balancing the two sports.
“She does a great job of balancing the two sports, and her game hasn’t slipped,” Bates said. “That is how she’s been doing in track, and as far as the golf side, she did that last year for us too. It was an easy transition to go back and forth. She’s doing well in both sports, and her grades are really good. She has no problem for that.”
Baxter will again be looking to punch her ticket to the MHSA Class B-C state tournament.
Two other Bluehawk competitors Ben Croft and Jolie Buchanan didn’t qualify for Divisionals but had outstanding golf seasons, according to Bates.
“They just didn’t make the cut, they weren’t quite ready and we didn’t want to push them into Divisionals,” Bates said. “I look for good things for both of them next year.”