As sophomores, Luke DeHaven and Logan Anderson find themselves part of Center Grove’s seemingly never-ending assembly line of talented boys golfers.
The Trojans, ranked atop the final regular-season coaches poll, put no less than four underclassmen on the course with every dual meet and invitational played.
Additionally, the program’s ‘B’ team — players Nos. 6 through 10 based on 18-hole scoring averages from competitions and practices — took first at multi-team events hosted by Crawfordsville and Mooresville high schools.
Entering today’s Providence Regional at Champions Pointe Golf Course in Henryville, DeHaven and Anderson are Center Grove’s No. 4 and 5 players, respectively. Freshman Alex Heck has been the second group’s top player, or No. 6 overall, for most of the season.
The trio exemplifies the level of competition that has become commonplace within one of the state’s elite programs. The Trojans finished runner-up at the 2015 State Finals at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel and were third last season.
DeHaven, who as a ninth-grader spent the 2016 campaign as part of Center Grove’s ‘B’ squad, said the daily competition only makes the product better.
“It’s fun just being able to compete every day with guys that are similar competition level as me,” DeHaven said. “I think we all just depend on each other. If we have a bad round, we pick each other up. Hopefully, we come back the next round and put a good number in.
“We always come together at the end of the day and either go play basketball or go out to eat.”
Ethan Shepherd, who plays No. 1, is one of only two seniors.
Early in his career, it was Shepherd facing the challenge of trying to break into the Trojans’ top five — and then working just as hard to stay there. Now it’s players like Heck trying to make an impact at the varsity level.
“I just try to use the good players around me to get better. Learn stuff from each other, I guess,” Heck said. “You obviously want to play (top five), but you’re happy to see other people play well, and you want what’s best for the team.”
Center Grove’s regular-season schedule accommodated the so-called second wave of golfers with five invitationals in April and May.
Heck, due to the occasional absence of a starter, has played three times in the top five (or six, as was the case against Perry Meridian in April at Hickory Stick) this season.
He shot 75 in the team victory at Crawfordsville.
First-year Center Grove coach Matt Rodman also works as the middle school golf coach in the fall. He coached many of his current players as seventh- and eighth-graders, and appreciates what has become a very deep pool of talent.
“We are very competitive in nature, and golf is a very competitive sport. Just the ability to play on such a competitive team on a day in and day out basis is something that they’re really benefiting from,” he said.
“It just does nothing but make us better in practice every day with the depth and the quality of depth we have. It makes me very excited about the future of our program.”
What: Providence Regional
When: 8 a.m.
Where: Champions Pointe Golf Club, Henryville
A look at where the local competitors stack up against the rest of the regional field:
Position in final regular-season state rankings: Center Grove (1), Bloomington South (6), Columbus North (11), Bedford North Lawrence (14), Franklin (16)
Top sectional scores in relation to par: Center Grove (+4), Franklin (+12), Madison (+17), Floyd Central (+19), Perry Meridian (+19), Columbus North (+20), Bloomington South (+21), Jasper (+23), Bedford North Lawrence (+26), Columbus East (+29)
Local individuals competing: Eric Moenkhaus and Hayden Borges-Hardesty, Greenwood
Outlook: There is unlikely to be much drama involving Center Grove, which is a clear favorite to win the regional and almost certain to be one of the three teams advancing out to state. The battle for the other two spots, however, figures to be interesting, with as many as nine teams in contention.
Franklin figures to be in that mix based on its strong sectional performance, but there are several perennial powers intent on stealing the available berths. Even if the Grizzly Cubs fall short as a team, any of their top three players — Javan Johnson, Matt Jordan or Emerson Downing — could potentially earn an individual spot at state.
Greenwood’s Moenkhaus also has a fighting chance to move on as an individual if he can replicate the even-par round he shot at Hickory Stick on Monday.