HELENA — The Helena Capital boys and girls golf teams have seen plenty of success in years past under head coach Casey Lyndes, who succeeded Tim Kelley at the helm for the Bruins in 2019.
Lyndes has taken a team to the Class AA state tournament in each one of his first four seasons leading the program, but this week's state tournament at Lake Hills Golf Course in Billings will be new territory for the Bruins.
“We haven’t been to Billings in probably five or six years," Lyndes said. "You have to play smart (on a new course). ... You can’t win state on the first day, but you sure can lose it. Play smart, just get yourself in contention to make a run the second day."
The high school golf season started in the summer before the first day of school, and Capital set a goal then for the girls to win the Western AA divisional championship. The Bruins topped Missoula Hellgate for the team title last week at Bill Roberts Golf Course in Helena.
“These kids have all played a ton of golf. I feel like we’re playing our best golf of the year right now,” Lyndes said. “Accomplishing that was awesome. The girls just peaked at the right time, and hopefully we got one more week to continue to peak and do that."
Olivia McGreevey led the Bruins last with a second-place overall finish. She carded an 84 during the first round and 80 in the second for a two-day total of 164 strokes. The junior has made it to state each year of her high school career and is looking to break 80 this week for a top-five finish.
“We accomplished a lot of goals last week as a team, and I think we’re going to aim to keep to doing that,” McGreevey said. “State is really fun. Playing with different girls from throughout Montana, to have that experience is really cool."
Sammie McCutcheon, another top-10 finisher for the Bruins at last week's divisional meet, will be heading to state for the second time. She credits her senior captains for the success she has seen during her sophomore season.
“I am excited. It’ll be fun. We have a good team, we’ve got juniors, sophomores, freshmen, it’s fun," McCutcheon said.
On the boys side, Lyndes mentioned the team's youth, but he’s telling his guys they're "playing great golf right now, and anything can happen at state."
John Gilbert and Kyler Meredith have been battling all year for the Bruins' No. 1 spot. Gilbert came away with the nod during divisionals last week, shooting 73 both days for a third-place individual finish. Meredith shot a two-round 151 to tie for 10th. Caden McCullough, an all-conference sophomore, tied for eighth place.
Gilbert is the only player on this year’s team who has played the course at Lake Hills.
“Stay focused, stay on track," he said. "I hope I can do well."
"Just hit a lot of shots during the practice round, feel it out, hit some good shots, and that’ll keep me flying into the tournament," McCullough said.
The Bruins left Helena at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, but Lyndes said "the team moms hooked us up" with road trip snacks to keep the golfers in the zone. The State AA tournament tees off Thursday morning.