Riverton Golf Coach Lars Flanagan leaves a legacy of success

    The most successful tenure of any head coach in Riverton High School history came to an end this fall with the retirement of Wolverine boys and girls golf coach Lars Flanagan.

    Flanagan led the Wolverine and Lady Wolverine teams for 14 seasons, from 2010 to the current year.

    In that period, Riverton won eight state championships, seven by the boys and one girl’s title in 2019, along with three third-place trophies. They had 32 all-state certificates awarded to 15 different players.

    The 2023 Riverton Golf Teams, the boys were state champions, the girls finished third – h/t Ceira Roberts

    “Ten different years we had two or more all-state awards. Three times we had four all-state awards,” Flanagan said. “We had 34 different players earn 67 all-conference awards. I really have no idea how many tournaments we won.”

    From the plethora of post-season awards, it’s easy to tell that Riverton golf had depth and a variety of talented athletes.

    There is a coaching adage that you don’t win the Kentucky Derby with a plow horse and that’s been true for the Riverton team under Flanagan.

    Parker Paxton and Dawson Valerio followed their drives – h/t Randy Tucker

    “Having two Power 5 players does not hurt. When your best players are also the hardest workers that helps a bunch. When they do not lose focus on the importance of team that also helps,” Flanagan said. “We can never underestimate the depth of our team and the quality of players not named Paxton.”


    Flanagan was referring to standout brothers Easton and Parker Paxton who combined for eight individual state titles.

    Easton won the Class 4-A tournament from 2013 to 2016 and Parker the Class 3-A tournament the last four years from 2020 to 2023.

    Lars Flanagan gave advice to Aspen Ablard – h/t Randy Tucker

    “I never had to worry about our kid’s work ethic,” Flanagan said. “Our program has great support from the players, the parents, RHS and School District 25, and the Riverton Country Club. I use the term ‘We’ a lot. When I use We it means all the people above.”


    Flanagan is a 1982 Riverton High School graduate. He went on to play basketball at Central Wyoming College and then his final two seasons at Dickinson State University in North Dakota.

    His career had him teaching in Hettinger, North Dakota, Arapaho, and nine years in Green River before coming back to Riverton.

    He married JoAnne Andre in 1988, and the couple have two children, Jace born in 1994, and Carlee in 2001. Flanagan spent much of his career as a counselor at Riverton Middle School.

    Sierra Brubaker eyed up a shot – h/t Randy Tucker

    His coaching career began in Green River with the 8th grade girls’ volleyball team.

    “I didn’t know anything about volleyball,” Flanagan said. “They hired JoAnne as my assistant, and she did the coaching.”

    He worked as an assistant coach to the late Ron Porter one season, then was the Riverton boys’ basketball head coach from 2001 to 2007.

    “I was all about winning and I lost track of all the other positive attributes of coaching basketball,” Flanagan said. “I still have some of the same basketball mentality in coaching golf.”

    Flanagan named the assistant coaches that were part of Riverton’s successful run.

    “The assistant coaches were very involved,” he said. “Matt Mortimore, Jay Galey, Russ Holgate, Ceira Roberts, and Tasya Ravellette.”

    Many Riverton golfers went on to compete at the college level. Jordan James signed with CWC – h/t CWC

    Flanagan’s approach to the tournament challenges of golf ties back to basketball and a quote by legendary UCLA head men’s coach John Wooden.

    “Be at your best when your best is needed,” Wooden said.

    “We compete or have a competition every day. We stress competition, until the last putt is holed,” Flanagan said. “We play for the team score, not the individual score.”

    Under Flanagan’s leadership, players from other county schools competed for the Wolverines and Lady Wolverines in recent years.

    In his 14 seasons at the Riverton helm, some images stand out.

    “Winning state with only four players who never played in a state tournament, three freshmen and a junior,” Flanagan said. “We holed three putts of five feet or longer on the last hole to win by one.”

    Getting to the big dance in athletics is one thing; competing on the statewide stage is quite another.

    Josie Cash of Shoshoni was part of the 2019 Lady Wolverine state championship team – h/t Randy Tucker

    “When we had an opportunity to win, we won, 8 for 8,” Flanagan said. “Our program expected to win. Some of the championships we won because we were better competitors. We carried ourselves well.”

    Good coaches are always motivated by their coaches and those who have influenced them; Flanagan named a couple.

    “Mike Harris is just a quality person who cared about kids and the profession. Bin Graefe taught me how important it is to compete and how to compete,” he said.

    Sometimes it’s not the coaches, but the players who say the right thing at the right time.

    “We had a situation where I was lost for words. I spent all night wondering what to say to our kids to help them with the day. Before I even had a chance to say anything one of our players spoke up and talked brilliantly,” Flanagan said. “I didn’t say a word. It taught me sometimes less is more, don’t overcoach.”

    The Riverton team will remain competitive with quality golfers in the pipeline.

    “We continue to have quality kids in our program,” Flanagan said. “I believe our girls’ team will compete at the state level next year. We have a large, good group of 8th and 9th graders entering our program.”

    The Flanagans have purchased a home near the ocean in North Carolina but plan to remain in Riverton most of the year.

    “I’m a Riverton guy,” Flanagan said. “I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”


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