BOZEMAN – The Bozeman Hawks golf teams exited the state tournament last week at the Butte Country Club with a clean sweep, winning both the boys and girls team titles as well as having two of their golfers take home the individual crowns.
One of those golfers was Justus Verge. In his first state tournament, the freshman lit up the course, shooting a total 138 in the two-day event.
“I trusted in the Lord to help me prevail today, and I trusted in my dad’s coaching — he’s my coach and I trusted in what he’s telling me,” Verge said after the win Friday. “I know I have what it takes, but it doesn’t come out every time.”
He picked the right time for his game to come out in full swing. Verge shot a 66 in Round 1 and 72 in the finals to claim the title. But the overall state championship is sweeter for the Hawks, because the Bozeman boys set a state record with a total of 575 strokes on their way to their first state title win in 21 years.
“This is a team effort, it feels so great. Our senior, Jack Thorsen, he’s wanted this for a long time. He was desperate, and I’m happy that the team prevailed today and got it through,” Verge said.
For Bozeman’s Annika Danenhauer, she finished as a runner-up at state the past two seasons, but this year she edged out Billings West’s Carrie Carpenter by one stroke to finish first.
“The first year as a sophomore it was super exciting to get second, last year it was kind of a bummer not to be able to come out,” said Danenhauer. “But I was super proud of my teammate Laurel (Ward) for coming out on top last year, so that was fun. And this year as a senior it’s kind of a nice cherry on top of a high school season.”
The Hawks team title marks the third consecutive for the Bozeman girls.
“I don’t think I really realized it as a sophomore. We won and I was like, ‘Oh, cool!’ That’s not something that I thought about. It was mainly thinking about me and how I can put up my best score, but as the years have gone by it’s not an individual; it’s a team sport,” Danenhauer said.
It’s only the third time in Montana girls golf history in which a team has won three state championships in a row. Billings West was first to accomplish the feat from 1988-1990. And then Bozeman won four in a row from 1992-1995.
And these teams can do it again. They Bozeman boys had three golfers finish in the top five, and all are returning next season. The girls are losing two state champions in Danahauer and Laurel Ward but have depth with the rest of their team still finishing no lower than 12th overall.
The sweep at state was one for the history books in Bozeman, but their teams know the titles were won before the tournament even teed off in Butte.
“It’s at some cost. We all put in a lot of hard work and a lot of practice time just outside of practice,” said Danenhauer. “It’s not just the one hour a day — it’s the weekends and after practice, and I think it’s all very well-deserved for all who got it.”