HELENA -- The C.M. Russell boys and Billings West girls streaked out to first-day leads at the annual Capital City Golf Invitational on Thursday. The Rustlers fired a 2-under par 286 at the Bill Roberts Golf Course, while the Bears' ladies shot a 344.
Great Falls High is sitting second in the seven-school boys tournament with a 292, ahead of Billings Senior (299) and West (302). Capital High is fifth at 317, just ahead of Helena High's 327. In the six-team girls' tourney, Skyview is second at 369, followed by Helena and Capital, with 383 and 389, respectively.
"That 2-under by CMR is a heck of a score," said HHS coach Bob Tipton, Montana's longest-tenured coach, now in his 29th season. "I tell you what, the boys top four (here) are the top-four teams in the state."
Individually, West boasted both low rounds, with defending State champion Joey Moore's 8-under 64 pacing the boys, and a 78 by Carrie Carpenter sitting atop the girls' leader board. Duncan Hollar (CMR) at 67, and Peyton Kimmel (BW) with 85, stand No. 2 in their respective tourneys.
There are four local linksters sitting in the Top 9 in the girls' event, including Reyla Williams (HHS) fourth at 89, Kielar Jones (CHS) tied for fifth at 91, Kylee Longenecker (CHS) tied for seventh with a 92, and Grace Jones (HHS) in ninth at 93.
The only hometown boy in the Top 15 is Bengal Austin Murphy, who carded a 75 and is tied for 12th.
Moore shot an eagle on the par 5 No. 9, to go with eight birdies and two bogeys.
"I drove hole 9 about 300 yards, was about 150 yards out, played a pitching wedge to within six feet and then sank the eagle putt," related the Golden Bear senior, who owns two career holes in one. "But probably my best hole was No. 13, when I sank a 20-footer that broke a cup and a half for my third straight bird."
Moore's lifetime PR is a 61, "with a double bogey," on Billings' Peter Yagen Course.
Carpenter's 6-over 78, included two birdies, eight pars and eight bogies.
"I think my best hole was the par 4 No. 1, when my second shot was 130 yards out. I hit an 8-iron to within 5-feet and then made the putt for birdie," recounted the the West sophomore, whose PR was 71 at last week's Billings City Meet. "Today the putting was rough, with two birdies I'd hoped for better than 78."
Tipton said his Bengal girls' score was "a little high," but they did have some good things happen.
"That was Reyla's first time to break 90 in a tournament, and Grace's 93 was good, although she did let a couple holes get away from her," he said. "And I'm really happy with Austin's 75 ... that's an excellent confidence booster for him. Tucker (Hauer) with an 83 is getting more consistent. We just need more confidence, but with 327 we did take it down quite a bit from last week."
The Bruin boys had three varsity guys tie for low team score with 79s; Trevor Swanson, Cal Irvine and Holden Gehringer. Simon Clark -- who fired a hole in one during practice the day before at Fox Ridge's No. 6 -- carded an 80 on Thursday. Ironically, Capital's actual low round was carded by JV player Gabe Witham at 78.
"Gabe started out on the varsity and is trying to work his way back up," said CHS coach Tim Kelly. "We had a lot of solid rounds from the guys today, and we're getting closer to choosing the State team.
"For the girls, Kielar and Kylee both had good scores. We had a lot of solid golf on our home course today, and I expect everyone to do well again tomorrow at Green Meadow, we practice there all the time."
The tourney concludes at GMCC on Friday, with tee-off time at 8 a.m.