CHEYENNE – Blake Danni picked a good time to shoot his career-best score at the Airport Golf Course.
The Cheyenne East senior fired a 4-under-par 66 to take the first-round lead at the Class 4A state tournament Friday.
Danni’s round included a 4-under 30 on the front nine, which was his back nine as he and his group teed off on Hole No. 10.
“I was hitting fairways and greens on my first nine, but turned it on with the second nine,” Danni said. “A lot of holes are really short, so why not hit a driver and get it up there as far as you can?”
Danni, whose previous best score at the AGC was 68, was the only player to shoot under par Friday. The defending state champion leads by six strokes over Cheyenne Central junior Ethan Cates.
East junior Michael Pope is fourth (74), and senior Tristen Zitek is tied for eighth (79).
The Thunderbirds lead the team standings at 21-over 301. Casper Kelly Walsh is second at 304.
“I was pleased, but if our Nos. 2, 4 and 5 men make a few less mistakes than they did (Friday), it could be a good outcome,” East coach Paul Hartigan said. “They played good, but I know those three guys are better than what they shot.”
Danni has won all but one of the tournaments he competed in this fall.
“I’m very excited about (today’s final round), but we have to play well as a team,” Danni said. “I need to hit it closer to the pin.
“Even though I shot 66, I had left a lot of approach shots so far from the hole.”
The East girls are in seventh place in the team standings. Their top finisher was sophomore Michelle Weatherly’s 95.
Kelly Walsh leads the girls team race at 244.
Cates is in second place for the boys, but he wasn’t necessarily happy about his round of 2-over.
“I was even par going into my back nine (Cates teed off on
No. 10) and got it to 1-under, but then had a couple of three-putts and couldn’t get it going after that,” Cates said. “I hit the ball well, and if I can keep that going, I feel like I can put a good round together to give me a chance.”
The Indians are in third place in the team standings. Two other players finished in the top 20 on Friday: Caden Jackson (81) is tied for 12th, and Cooper Darrah (82) is tied for 15th.
The girls are in fifth place, and have two players in the top 10. Jennifer Gillotti and Taylen Sewell are tied for eighth with 90s.
Sophomore Paige Guille is in a four-way tie for eighth place for the girls with a 90.
The boys were led by Brenden Schatz’s 94.
The final day of the tournament starts at 8 a.m. today.
CLASS 4A STATE TOURNEY
at Airport Golf Course, Cheyenne – Par 70
1. Casper Kelly Walsh 244, 2. Thunder Basin 269, 3. Casper Natrona County 274, 4. Sheridan, 275, 5. Cheyenne Central 278, 6. Laramie 285, 7. Cheyenne East 299, 8. Rock Springs 314, 9. Cheyenne South 320.
Top 10 Individuals
1. Klugness, Kelly Walsh, 77; 2. Sponenburgh, Evanston, 79; 3. Farnum, Thunder Basin, 80; 4. Olson, Kelly Walsh, 81; 5. James, Sheridan, 82; 6. Galles, Natrona, 83; 7. Griffin, Kelly Walsh 86; 8t. Gillotti, Central; Tranas, Thunder Basin; P. Guille, South; Sewell, Central, 90.
Other Central results: 22. Robinson 98, T26. Lucero 103, 35. Wilson 109
East results: 14t. Weatherly 95, 25. Evans 101, 26t. DiJohn 103, 37. Sherard 112, 42. West 144.
Other South results: 36. Kentner 111, 40. Hill 119.
1. Cheyenne East 301, 2. Casper Kelly Walsh 304, 3. Cheyenne Central 323, 4. Evanston 340, 5. Sheridan 343, 6. Campbell County 348, 7. Casper Natrona County 360, 8. Laramie 378, 9. Thunder Basin 380, 10. Green River 403, 11. Cheyenne South 456.
Top 10 Individuals
1. Danni, East 66; 2. Cates, Central, 72; 3. Hensley, Kelly Walsh, 73; 4. Pope, East, 74; 5. Sutherland, Kelly Walsh 75; 6. Rasmussen, Kelly Walsh, 76; 7. McClaren, Laramie, 77; 8. Hurd, Evanston; Zitek, East; 79; 10. Wolf, Campbell County; Murray, Kelly Walsh, 80.
Other Central results: 12t. Jackson 81, 15t. Darrah 82, 22t. Auer 88, 36t. Ballie 96.
Other East results: 15t. Cline 82, 20. Cole 84.
Cheyenne South results: 34. Schatz 94, 50t. Fisher 119, 50t. Osvold 119, 54. Hayden 124.
Robert Gagliardi is the WyoSports senior editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307-755-3325. Follow him on Twitter at @rpgagliardi.