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South Valley Riverton Journal

Riverton boys golf team young but not short on numbers

Sep 11, 2023 11:44AM ● By Josh McFadden

The 2023 Riverton boys golf team is looking to compete well in a new region. From left: Luke Wathen , Warren fisher , Jaxon Erickson , Boston Knight, Trey Pehrson. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Pehrson.)

As a coach, when only one of your 20 players is a senior, you may worry. But for the Riverton boys golf team, having a large team is a strength, especially when those players are as dedicated to the game and each other as the Silverwolves are. 

“Our strengths of our team are that we have 20 hard-working kids who love the game of golf,” head coach Kelly Pehrson said. “They worked extremely hard in the offseason to improve. They played in lots of junior tournaments to get more experience, and they got out and played lots of golf together to build some team unity.”

Along with one senior on the team, Luke Wathen, who finished 11th at the Class 6A state tournament a year ago, the Silverwolves have seven juniors, seven sophomores and five freshmen. Along with Wathen, the other returning varsity starter from 2022 is sophomore Jaxon Erickson, who averaged a score of 69 after the first two tournaments of the season.

“[Erickson] is one of the top golfers in the state,” Pehrson said. “[He] works harder than any golfer I have ever watched.”

Junior Camden Niell, junior Hayden Stewart and sophomores Kash Kimball, Trey Pehrson and Warren Fisher have improved and should contribute this season. 

As head coach, Pehrson is pleased not only with how the players have worked hard and gotten better at their craft, but he likes his players’ attitudes and mindsets. He has seen the players improve the way they treat one another, too. 

“Our team has a great attitude,” he said. “Every one of them want to improve, which makes it easy as a coach. I see them all stay after practice working on things that will help them for the next tournament. I see the team playing golf together outside of practice all the time, which makes me feel like I am doing my job to help build team unity.”

Pehrson acknowledges that golf can be a frustrating game for anyone, especially when there are off days and things don’t go well. Pehrson is trying to instill a belief in the players’ minds that every effort counts for something and will have positive effects in the end. 

“Our key to success, which is also our team’s motto, is to be ‘Addicted to the Process,’” he said. “We need to trust that the many hours on the range, the time spent chipping and putting and the many rounds of golf are all a part of a process that we need to be addicted to. You may not see leaps and bounds improvement, but if we are addicted to this process, I can promise you our team will get better, and we will see success.”

Riverton competes in Region 2 against some difficult competition. Region foes are Bingham, Corner Canyon, Herriman, Mountain Ridge and Copper Hills. The Silverwolves have several tournaments against league opponents in September after having competed in the heat of August as well. The state championships are Oct. 9 and 10 at Old Mill Golf Course. 

“Our players just need to learn to play their own game, meaning if they aren’t the longest hitters in the group, they just need to trust their own strengths and play their game,” Pehrson said. “Their birdie or par is just the same as another players birdie or par, no matter how far they hit it.”

Whether Riverton rises to the top of the region standings and competes strongly at state, or whether the team falls short, Pehrson said he is grateful to be involved with Riverton golf and associate with his players. 

“I love teaching them to love a game that they will play the rest of their lives,” he said. “Golf is not the most popular sport in high school, but I tell them all the time, golf is a sport that everyone wishes they were good at and that they learned to play much younger. Not many people will put on football pads or play fast-pitch baseball after high school, but they will play golf. Also, I have great young men on our team. Golf is secondary. I hope they are all successful in school and become great people in life. Every one of them, I see a great future in, no matter what they do.”  λ