Champions Pointe Golf Club has been quite kind to the Center Grove boys golf team in the past, and the course continued to treat the Trojans well Thursday.
Despite stiff challenges from Bloomington South and Bedford North Lawrence, the No. 1-ranked Trojans were able to hang on and repeat as the champions of the Providence Regional.
Center Grove totaled a 292, three shots clear of Bloomington South and six better than Bedford North Lawrence. Those three schools will advance to the state finals, which will be conducted next Tuesday and Wednesday at Prairie View in Carmel.
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“For whatever reason, the kids really like coming down to this course,” Center Grove coach Jim Williams said. “It’s appealing to their eye, and they like playing here.”
The Trojans again displayed the depth that separates them from the pack, with all five players turning in scores of 76 or better.
Sam Jean had the team’s low round and the second lowest score of the tournament overall, shooting a 1-under-par 71. Noah Gillard was one stroke behind him at 72.
Tyler Rankel finished at 74 for the Trojans, while Ethan Shepherd had a 75 and Logan Anderson a 76.
Having five players in the lineup capable of shooting low scores, Jean said, helps alleviate some of the pressure in crunch time.
“It definitely makes us feel more comfortable,” he said. “If one person’s off, we know everybody has our back.”
Franklin finished in eighth place with a total of 319. Sophomore Javan Johnson led the way for the Grizzlies with a 3-over 75, a score which left him just one stroke short of a playoff for the final individual qualifying spot.
Aside from one hiccup on the seventh hole, where a hooked tee shot found water and led to a triple-bogey 7, Johnson was happy with how the day went.
“I had one hole that threw me off a little bit,” Johnson said. “But overall I played pretty smoothly today.”
Matt Jordan added a 79 for Franklin, while Blake Andrews shot 80, Emerson Downing 85 and Kodi Duncan 90.
Center Grove heads to state as the favorite — but also with three players in the lineup who didn’t play in the final tournament a year ago. Holdovers Gillard and Shepherd are taking it upon themselves to keep their teammates loose.
“We’ll just tell them it’s another round of golf,” Gillard said. “Just keep doing what they’re doing, try to go low and make some birdies. But at the end of the day, it’s just another round of golf.”
The Trojans hope that it ends with them atop the leaderboard one more time.