DAILY JOURNAL SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
After a sixth-place finish at last year’s IHSAA Boys State Golf Meet, Center Grove enters the new season confident of making a run at the championship.
With four returning starters, including last year’s top player, it’s easy to understand why.
Center Grove is ranked third in the preseason poll and appears to have the tools to make a title run.
“It’s been one step at a time with this group,” coach Jim Williams said. “I think we’re ready for the next step.”
All returning starters are seniors who have played together since they were freshmen.
“We never want to get ahead of what’s in front of us,” said senior C.J. Heck, who finished in a two-way tie for 10th place at last year’s state meet by carding a pair of 73s. “We pretty much eat, drink and sleep golf.
“We believe in ourselves and we believe we’re going to be very competitive.”
Austin Crowder, who finished 23rd at state, echoed the sentiment.
“Each tournament we’re involved in will benefit us down the road,” Crowder said. “I think we’ve got a little chip on our shoulder, so this year we’re trying to prove to everybody we’re the best.”
Also returning are seniors Hayden Martin and Zack Carrabine, who have consistently shot in the mid-70s.
Others with varsity experience include senior Ben Surface; juniors Tyler Rankel and Jackson Williams; sophomore Ethan Shepherd; and freshmen Noah Gillard and Sam Jean.
The Trojans open the season April 8 against Plainfield at Dye’s Walk Golf Club.
Only three players from last year’s team return for veteran coach Doug Weddle.
Juniors Zach and Kyle Pendleton will be joined by senior Adam Barker in the starting lineup.
Senior Rayce Holland and junior Conner Goddard are expected to be in the starting mix.
Junior Leon Kemper, a foreign exchange student from Germany, is new to the team.
“We’re looking for him to be one of our key players,” Weddle said.
Edinburgh opens the season April 15 at South Decatur.
The Grizzly Cubs finished fourth in last year’s sectional, one shot behind third-place finisher Roncalli. Only the top three teams qualify for the regional at Champions Pointe Gulf Club in Henryville.
Returning for coach Curt Holcroft are senior Jake Hash, who fired a regional qualifying 73 at the sectional, in addition to seniors Austin Barnhizer, Jared Amich, Chase Neville and juniors Blake Andrews and Tye Auton.
Added to the roster are newcomer freshmen in Javan Johnson, Matt Jordan and Luke Stultz.
Franklin begins this season at the Hall of Fame Tournament at Rock Hollow Golf Club in Peru on April 11.
First-year coach Michael Young has a young squad. But he is optimistic about its abilities.
“We’re not going to be deep, but we should be in contention in most matches,” he said.
Only two starters return from last year’s team that finished seventh in the 13-team Southport Sectional. They are Senior Collin Lambert and sophomore Jaden Hornbeak.
Those players will be joined by sophomores Cohen Crouse and Center Grove transfer Hayden Borges-Hardesty.
Young also has a group of four freshmen looking to crack the starting lineup.
The Woodmen open the season against Mid-State Conference and county rival Whiteland at Hickory Stick Golf Club on April 8.
wood Christian Academy
The Cougars, under second-year coach Jim Davis, don’t have a deep roster but do have a measure of experience.
Still a very young team, the Cougars have three juniors, three sophomores and three freshmen.
The returning players with experience are junior Destin Scheiner and sophomores Camden Peters, Alec Elmore and Jarod Thorp.
Greenwood Christian will be playing its home meets at Bluff Creek Golf Course.
The Cougars host Columbus Christian in their April 7 opener.
Third-year coach Kyle Vorhies is confident the Braves will improve on last year’s seventh place finish at the Southport Sectional.
With the return of three starters and the addition of two transfer students, expectations are high.
Heading the list of returnees are seniors Michael Resciniti, Ryan Samples and Cohen Carter.
Franklin transfers Spencer Wood, who qualified for last year’s regional, along with fellow senior Dylan Phair, are expected to provide a significant boost.
Also returning are juniors Max Pugh and Noah Kinser.
The Braves open the season in a triangular match with Martinsville and Brown County on April 13.
Under the direction of second-year coach J.J. Burns, the Warriors looks to improve on last year’s eighth-place sectional finish.
Among the Warriors’ top returners are junior Zach Whitaker and sophomores Sam Bowen and Austin Combs.
“We’re going to have a very young team, but we’re going to do everything we can to improve on how we finished last year,” Burns said.
Whiteland opens the season April 13 against Center Grove and Franklin at The Legends of Indiana Golf Club.