DAILY JOURNAL SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
Employing a business-like approach, the top-ranked Center Grove boys golf team won Thursday’s IHSAA regional at the Champions Pointe Golf Club in Henryville.
Center Grove carded a team score 290, eight strokes better than runner-up Bloomington South. Floyd Central was third with a 306.
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With the win, the Trojans — along with the other top three teams and the top three individuals on nonadvancing teams — move on to Tuesday and Wednesday’s state finals at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel.
Franklin senior Jake Hash advanced as an individual with a one-over par 73.
Bloomington South’s Joe Weiler was the medalist with a two-under par 70.
Center Grove senior Zack Carrabine and freshman Noah Gillard tied for second place among individuals with a one-under par 71.
Carrabine, a four-year starter, got off to a good start and was two-under for the first six holes.
“Our goal since day one has been to get back to the state finals where we finished sixth last year,” Carrabine said. “This course really sets up nice for me. I was really good with my chip shots all day.
“Each one of us plays a different game and that’s why we’ve been so balanced all year.”
Senior Austin Crowder carded a one-over par 73 for the Trojans. Sophomore Ethan Shepherd had a 75, and senior Christopher Heck a 76.
Center Grove’s seasonlong strength has been balance and consistency. At any given meet, any given starter can card the low score.
“You just have to throw them up and see who lands closest together, I guess, as far as the four that score,” Trojans coach Jim Williams said. “The course played awfully tough today, coupled with the heat, so it was a tougher situation. You’ve got to be mentally prepared to handle it all day long.
“But the kids did well and being consistent is the biggest attribute we’ve had. With these three seniors (Carrabine, Crowder, Heck), they have a calming effect on the younger kids, I think, and that allows them to just go out and play.”
Meanwhile, Franklin (308) narrowly missed qualifying for the state finals, finishing fourth, two strokes off the pace of third-place finisher Floyd Central. But Hash will represent the Grizzly Cubs at the state meet.
“The goal all along was to get to state,” Hash said. “I got two up-and-downs (pars) on the first two holes, which kind of jump-started my round, and at the same time were real confidence-boosters.
“Not great obviously that the team’s not going to be there, especially being so close, so it stings a little bit. But I’ll be ready next week,” he said.
Franklin coach Curt Holcroft, who has coached the boys and girls teams the past 10 years, had no complaints about the Cubs’ effort.
“We came out and did the best we could,” Holcroft said. “The boys played with everything they had, and we just came up a couple strokes short. We got a little recognition earlier in the season as far as the top 20 (state poll) was concerned, but we managed to get as high as No. 18 late in the year, so we were kind of flying under the radar. Not a lot of people knew about us.
“I’m pretty excited for Jake,” Holcroft said. “This is the first time I’ve had a player make it to state. He put a lot of hard work in, and a lot of effort to take that step to the next level to the state finals is huge.”
Greenwood freshman Eric Moenkhaus, an individual regional qualifier, finished with an 81. Roncalli junior Brayden Stegemiller had a 78.