MISSOULA — Missoula Loyola golfer Bucky Crippen never felt like he found his rhythm during day two of the State B golf tournament.
The senior didn’t like the way he drove the ball off the tee on Wednesday at The Ranch Club in Missoula. He wasn’t pleased with his putting. And he wasn’t thrilled he settled for a bogey on the 18th hole.
But when Crippen and the Rams got their awards and posed for pictures, those thoughts were no longer at the forefront since the celebration was underway. Crippen repeated as the state champion and the Rams won their second team title in three years after falling agonizingly short last spring.
“Finally getting it done feels good. It’s satisfying,” said Crippen, who won the family's seventh individual state title, joining older sisters Kelsie, Maggie and Sadie. “The team one is really cool because I never had gotten the individual and the team in the same year. To do it our senior year, our last year, it’s sweet.”
Loyola followed up its impressive first-round score of 308 with a 331 on day two to finish at 639 and beat out Conrad, which came in as the Rams' top challenger and tallied a 687. The 48-stroke victory was the second-largest margin of victory over the past 12 tournaments, behind only Loyola’s 93-stroke win in 2013.
For the Rams, the title was their second in three seasons and their seventh in 11 years. Reclaiming the team trophy had been the goal all season and was a focal talking point during the winter after losing by two strokes last season against Shelby.
“It was a big focus. It was the goal,” Loyola head coach Mike Trudnowski said. “They knew they had the opportunity. We were just trying to put them in the mind frame that when they got to here they could do it. They were up for it and didn’t even let anyone get close. I was impressed.”
Crippen paved the way for Loyola, shooting a two-day total of 65-75—140 to win by eight shots and finish four-under par. His 65 on Tuesday was the third-best single-round score at the State B tournament since 2003, and his eight-stroke win tied his margin of victory from 2018, when he shot a 142.
Loyola senior Sam Miland boosted the team score by tying for fourth overall with a 75-79—154 despite coming in with the third-best divisional score on his team alone. It was a performance Miland and Trudnowski knew he was capable of after Miland transferred from Sentinel this school year and they made swing changes to complement the hockey player’s quick wrists.
“It’s unreal,” said Miland, who moved to Missoula from Minnesota in eighth grade. “We won state this year for hockey (with the Missoula Bruins) and state for golf. Nothing beats being the best team in the state and doing it with the best people in the world.”
Loyola senior Reed Noyd tied for 12th individual, carding an 80-93—173. Joseph Kendrick rounded out the Rams’ scoring with an 88-91—179.
“I don’t think a lot of kids when they grow up are able to say they won a team championship in any sport,” Crippen said. “You have to be pretty good at what you’re doing to win. Golf is a pretty individual thing, but when you all come together to add up your scores, it’s cool.”
Conrad finished second as a team, and Jarek Shepard was the team’s high scorer, placing seventh with an 82-77—179. Teammate Blake Vandenacre took ninth (85-85—170) and Brady Bokma tied for 12th (86-87—173).
Baker placed third as a team with a score of 365-361—726. Its lone medalist in the top 15 was Konner Flint, who tied for fourth with a 76-78—154.
While Crippen kept a comfortable lead throughout day two, Big Timber’s Blake Finn and Townsend’s Cody Graveley were locked in a battle for second. Finn came into the second round one stroke behind Graveley but emerged with a 74-74—148 to take second despite a potentially costly double bogey on hole 16. Graveley ended with a 73-77—150 to finish in third place.
The three-way tie for fourth place also featured Thompson Falls' Ethan Brown (154), who competed as an individual. Colstrip's Travis Smith was eighth (163) while teammate J.T. Baer tied for 10th (172).
Florence's Caden Plasmier, competing at state for the first time, tied for 10th with an 84-88—172. It was the first time the Falcons qualified as a team, and they placed seventh, shooting a 747 by lowering their day-one total of 391 to 356 on day two.
Rounding out the medalists, Choteau's Trenton Durocher finished in 14th (174) and Jefferson's Preston Field was 15th (175).