Not even close: Center Grove runs away with MIC golf title

CARMEL

Like any golfer with incredibly high expectations, Noah Gillard sees Monday’s 18-hole round and notices opportunities missed.

Not many, but a few.

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Led by the junior’s sizzling 33-32—65 at Prairie View Golf Club, Center Grove shot a record 270 to win the program’s fourth consecutive Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference Meet in convincing fashion.

The 16-stroke conquest of runner-up Carmel — the other six teams were never close to being in contention — was the program’s fifth MIC title since the event made its debut in 1997 at Hulman Links in Terre Haute.

Gillard, who as a ninth-grader fired a 66 at Prairie View to help the Trojans score what is now the event’s second-lowest all-time team score (280), hopes this is a sign of things to come.

After all, Prairie View also hosts the state finals on June 13 and 14.

“I think anyone in our top five can break 70. We’re just that deep and talented,” Gillard said. “I had two lip-outs and I hit some pretty bad wedge shots, so I definitely feel I left a few out there. But I’m very pleased with the 65.”

Each Center Grove player earned all-conference honors based on their scores.

Senior Ethan Shepherd finished at 5-under-par 67, while sophomore Luke DeHaven, the team’s No. 4 player, carded twin 34s for a personal-best 68. Sophomore No. 5 player Logan Anderson scored a 37-33—70 and junior Sam Jean an even-par 34-38—72.

“I felt pretty good. I hit 18 greens, but I could’ve hit some more putts,” Shepherd said. “I think we felt good going in. I think we’re playing our best golf so far (this season).

First-year Trojans coach Matt Rodman felt good things were possible given the ideal weather and course conditions Monday. Also, in the MIC meet, players tee off from the white tees — a departure from being at the rear of the teebox, as is the case at the state finals.

It was, in a sense, the perfect storm.

“This is the first time all season where all five of us have been playing really well,” Rodman said. “The key is the practice time we’ve been able to have lately with the weather we’ve had lately. We’ve been able to get out there and work on stuff.

“We came in with a pretty good goal today. Noah his freshman year shot 66 here, so a 65 is not overly surprising. And Ethan when he gets on a roll, he can drain putts. To have that many scores under 72 is probably the surprising part, but who did it and what they did is not surprising at all.”

In the MIC tournament’s 21-year run, Center Grove, in addition to its five championships, has been second a total of six times. Only three times have Trojans teams finished outside the top four in the final standings.

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Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at mbeas@dailyjournal.net.