By Nathan Brown
The Herald Bulletin
---- — FRANKLIN — After sitting in 12th place out of 15 teams at the end of the first day of the Indiana boys golf state finals Tuesday, Pendleton Heights mounted a small comeback Wednesday in the final round to finish 10th at 32-over par.
The Arabians shot 12-over par in Wednesday's final round, an eight-shot improvement on their first round performance. Three of Pendleton’s four scorers improved on their Tuesday scores. Sophomore Zach Farrer shot a one-over 73, the best round of anyone on the team during the two-day tournament.
Junior Colin Proctor followed with a 74, and juniors Tyler Meyer and Trevar Denney rounded out the scoring four with a 76 and a 77, respectively. Senior Rylan Denney shot an 84 Wednesday after a 76 on Tuesday.
Although Proctor had state tournament experience during his freshman season, none of his four teammates knew quite what to expect with the pressure and atmosphere at the state tournament level.Proctor said that nerves may have gotten the best of them Tuesday, but Wednesday he saw his teammates able to settle down.
“The other guys were a little more comfortable,” Proctor said. “They knew what it was going to be like, and they knew what the atmosphere was going to be like.”
And Pendleton Heights coach Jim Phillips said he felt that translated to his team’s performance on the putting green.
“Like I said yesterday, we didn’t putt good at all,” Phillips said. “I’m not saying we putted great today, but we made a few more putts, and it looked like we made a few more fairways. We improved a few shots from yesterday. ... That’s not bad.”
Phillips felt his squad had the potential to finish in the top five at The Legends Golf Club this week, but just getting the whole team back to the state meet — a feat that hadn’t been done at Pendleton Heights since 1935 — was a step in the right direction for the program, especially for a team with four of its five varsity players returning next season.
“I think that kind of experience is priceless, to come here and see it all,” Phillips said. “We might have gotten caught up in being here yesterday and focusing on being in the tournament rather than really focusing on playing well. You don’t know, they’re kids. We’ll take it and learn from it, and we’ll get better next year.”
The Arabians lose only Rylan Denney from the state roster, but the team will be looking to fill several holes next year when the current juniors — who make up 60 percent of the roster — graduate. But Phillips said this season's success has brought a bit of a resurgence in the golfing community that he hopes can continue for years to come.
“I’ve seen some younger kids at some of our matches — at county and the conference meet where we played well,” Phillips said. “Hopefully, it will rekindle the fire in some younger kids to get back out and get into golf.
"That’s good for you, to know that our goals have changed. It used to be to get out of the sectional, and now it’s to get back to state.”