By Rick Teverbaugh
The Herald Bulletin
A grand finale of the high school golf season is the state tournament and for area teams that has meant being directed into Indiana’s most daunting sectional at one of the most daunting courses.
Most area teams still go to the Noblesville Sectional at Purgatory Golf Club, but there is some addition to team hopes by subtraction.
Carmel, Westfield and Guerin Catholic are no longer part of that field. Hamilton Heights and Tipton have moved in and they are no pushovers. But with Liberty Christian not fielding a team this season, the sectional field is down to 11 teams.
“This is still a tough sectional,” said Lapel coach John Maryan. “But we’ve posted some good numbers in that sectional and never even come close to getting out.”
Another high spot for area teams is the Madison County Tournament, which will be held May 4 at Edgewood Golf Course.
Here is a team-by-team rundown on the prep teams:
The Tigers of coach Jesse Shawver lost three players from a year ago to graduation and are bringing three back. Gone are Michael McFerran, Austin Broshar and Chandler Sells. Back are Andy Rowe, Mason Knopp and Isaac Collis.
“A lot can be accomplished this year as our team is young,” said Shawver. “Our goals this year are more ambitious than previous years and that is mainly because of the talent. County should be fairly competitive and our guys have set the goal to improve on our third place finish from last year.”
Coach Bob Windlan’s Indians lost two players from a season ago, but they return Mitchell Smith, Erik Spencer and Jacob Gray. “Mitchell Smith has played very well in our first two events,” said Windlan. Smith was second out of 65 players in the Monroe Central Invitational.
“Jacob Gray is the most improved golfer so far,” said Windlan. “His ball striking has greatly improved. Our hoppes are that these players improve rapidly so we can have a fine showing in the County, conference and sectional.”
The Broncos lost Jonathan Junco, Danny Bedell and Mark Calland from a season ago. There are five returning; Austin Creamer, Brad Edwards, Scott Anthony, Zack Sizelove and Robert Stevens. Newcomers are Kaleb Rench, Quentin Ruiz and VJ Rector.
“I think we should have a pretty good season this year,” said Daleville coach Joe Rench. “Losing three of your top five in one year is tough to replace. Everyone is working hard and just trying to improve every meet to be competitive for sectionals.”
The Panthers of coach Kyle Hobbs lost just one player, No. 5 Drake Mengelt. Bobby Harrell, John Slayton, Tanner Hobbs and Tarren Reynolds return and newcomers Marcus Kaszuba and Trevor Holliday should help.
“Even though we have four guys back with a lot of experience, most of the guys only play during the season,” said Hobbs. “Our goals are a little higher than they have been. In sectional we just compete against ourselves to see how well we can play.”
Frankton coach Jeff Bates lost just one golfer from a year ago, but that was No. 1 golfer Brandon Small. Junior Noah Hinds will likely play No.1 just ahead of No. 2 sophomore Cameron Bates. Adam Likens, Andrew Shafer and Zach Stephenson will fight it out for the next three spots. Caleb Kleek will also be competitive.
“We just don’t have a dominant No. 1 and No. 2,” said Bates. “We really have a bunch of 4s and 5s. We will have some success down the road but it is going to take some time. We aren’t in the top four in the County but we could be in the top of the next four and finish fifth. We have a lot of kids starting to get interested in golf.”
The Bulldogs lost No. 4 player Derrick Packard to graduation. But they return Caleb Brown, Mitchell Richardson, Tanner Watkins and Zach Campbell. Freshmen Tanner Whittingham and Dalton Fensler could challenge for spots.
“I am very pleased by far,” said Maryan. “The scores have been the reason for what we’ve been able to do outside so far. I think we can make a good showing in every event we enter. I think this is one of our best golf teams.”
The Argylls lost four players from a year ago and will be doing some regrouping for new coach Andy Varner. Coming back are Austin Engle, Brady Collins, Griffin Engle and Matt Carey. Newcomers Jeremy Johnson and Zach Meisner will provide depth.
“We’ll be all right,” said Varner. “They are working hard. We’ve got some football and basketball players. I think we can improve during the season.”
The Arabians are missing Zach Phillips and Stefan Slick from a season ago. They still have one of the state’s strongest players in junior Colin Proctor who missed most of last season with an injury. Senior back are Wes Dworek and Rylan Denney to go with juniors Trevar Denney, Tyler Meyer, Cody Branham, Daniel Amrine and Luke Groninger. Sophs Zach Farrer and Austin Smith along with freshmen Chase Simpson and Austin Zerkel make this a deep team.
“Our goals for the year are to win the County, and conference and advance out of the sectional,” said PH coach Jim Phillips.”
The Raiders graduated four of their top five players from a season ago. Ryan Farmer is the lone returning golf. Newcomers are Wyatt Bivens, Mitch Humphrey, Carson Powell, Jarod Hamilton and Jason Masters.
“We expect to have a good season and repeat for the fourth year as (Henry) County champs,” said Shenandoah coach Terry Furnish. “Hopefully we will get out of the sectional for the fourth year as well. We have good kids and they are working hard to become good golfers.”
Anderson Preparatory Academy doesn’t have a varsity golf squad.