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South Valley Riverton Journal

Wells helps drive Riverton girls golf to top-10 finish at state

Jun 04, 2024 02:08PM ● By Josh McFadden

Kayci Wells wraps up her Riverton golf career as the team’s consistent second-best scorer. Wells will go on a three-month humanitarian trip to Thailand before she starts working as a hairstylist. (Photos courtesy Wells)

Ask any Utah high school golfer on the girls’ side, and you’ll hear that Class 6A is loaded with talent. Playing against top competition, the Riverton girls team fared well at the 6A state tournament, held May 20, 21 at Soldier Hollow Golf Course. The Silverwolves placed eighth out of 18 teams. 

Riverton shot a two-day total of 744, shooting a 378 on day one and a 366 on day two. The Silverwolves were 168 shots over par, 17 more than seventh-place Herriman. The top two golfers for Riverton were seniors Hunter Gledhill and Kayci Wells, who shot a +23 and a +31, respectively.

For Wells, the performance was the culmination of four years of hard work and dedication on the team. She shot an 87 on day one and an 88 on day two. Going into her senior year, she wanted to get better with all the aspects of her game, particularly her mindset and attitude. Golf can be mentally challenging for even the best players. Wells has been good about not letting a bad shot or a bad round bother her for too long. Throughout her senior year, she also enjoyed the team’s strong bond. 

“My goal this year is to try and improve my mental game and not let my bad shot get in my head so then I can have a comeback after a bad shot,” she said. “My goal for the team is to try and include everyone and try to become good friends and make some good memories.”

Wells was one of the most experienced players on the team, having started playing at age 8. She began a decade ago by taking lessons at Glenmoor Golf Course from Darci Olsen. From an early period, Wells attended golf junior camps and played in many junior tournaments. 

Among the many aspects of golf that Wells has loved is how, though it is an individual sport, there is a team component. Her play affects how the team does, so she knows that her performance will go a long way in making the team better.

“Something I love most about the sport is how it can be a team sport but also an individual sport,” Wells said. “So the only person I have to depend on is myself, which pushes me to try and do my very best and get better every time I play.”

Riverton coach Patricia Marshall-Azares gushes about the contributions Wells made to the team and for what she has meant to the Silverwolves’ program. 

“[Wells] is a very fundamentally skilled golfer who is a huge asset to our team,” Marshall-Azares said. “She has consistently been our second-best scorer and one we always need. She was injured for our first tournament of the season, and she was unable to even practice (she broke her elbow in an accident). She had such a great attitude and great work ethic to rehab and come back strong as soon as she was able to play. She is also a critical team leader. She leads by her example. She comes to practice every day and works on her game. She is kind and helpful and encouraging to the other girls. She is good enough to have played college golf, but she chose to stay in Utah and complete her licensing and certification and hours to do hair. I hope she keeps playing in local tournaments and playing in her adult life.”

Coming to the end of her career as a Riverton golfer, Wells had a lot of emotions. She is excited to graduate and move to the next phase of life, but she also has many fond memories. She’ll miss being around her teammates and competing each day. As she reflects on her four years, she doesn’t talk a lot about certain matches or about wins, losses, big shots, or near misses. Instead, she remembers the friendships she has made. 

“I love being on Riverton’s girls golf team because I have made some of the very best friends from it, and it’s fun being able to see each other get better every day,” she said. “We have made some pretty awesome memories and had some pretty awesome times.”

Wells has been good about taking things in stride and maintaining a positive mindset. She has tried to pass that trait on to her teammates. 

“I think one of my strengths is being a good team player and trying to include everyone and cheer everyone on no matter how good or bad I might have played,” she said.

This season, Wells worked on her mental game and did her best to overcome setbacks. She was effective at bouncing back from a missed shot or a less-than-ideal hole. Finishing her senior season with a solid outing at state was a highlight. 

Wells is ready for the next chapter in her life. She has a well-planned out career path already and will add in some traveling and service work too. 

“After high school, I plan to go to Thailand on a humanitarian trip for three months,” she said. “After that, I will come home and start working in a salon because I have also been doing hair school through the JATC program the school provides, which makes it so I can become a hairstylist right out of high school.”

Wells is quick to point out that she could not have enjoyed success in school and at golf without the support and mentorship of different people in her life. She is grateful for the guidance and encouragement of these individuals. 

“One of my biggest mentors is Darci Olsen,” Wells said. “She is the head pro at Glenmoor Golf Club. She was the one who got me started and who made me want to keep going because I wanted to become like her and make her proud. But most of all, my parents were the ones who have been at every tournament and drove me to every practice so I could get better. They pushed me to always do my best.” λ