The machine just keeps on rolling along.
Center Grove’s boys golf team has been on a roll in recent weeks, and the state’s top-ranked team kept it going at Thursday’s Providence Regional. The Trojans picked apart a challenging Champions Pointe course, putting together a 10-under-par 278 to defeat runner-up Columbus North by 12 strokes.
Their reward is a trip to the state championship Tuesday and Wednesday at Prairie View in Carmel, where the program will attempt to win its first-ever state title after finishing third last year and second in 2015.
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“Our goal all year long was to make it to the state tournament,” Center Grove coach Matt Rodman said, “and now that we’re going to be there we’re going to prepare really hard and give it all we’ve got.”
Franklin finished in a tie for eighth place with a 318.
The Trojans were in fine shape from the outset, with three players — Ethan Shepherd, Sam Jean and Luke DeHaven — each posting a score of 35 on the front nine. Shepherd and Jean both completed their rounds at 68, while DeHaven was close behind with a 1-under 71.
“I hit a lot of greens and didn’t get in any trouble really at all,” Shepherd said. “I made a couple of stupid bogeys, but I played pretty well.”
Noah Gillard had Center Grove’s highest front-nine score with a 38, but the team’s No. 1 player roared back with a 3-under 33 on the back to match DeHaven with a 71.
“I never worry about him,” Rodman said of Gillard. “I knew that he always gets in a little bit of a groove.”
Logan Anderson added a 75 for the Trojans.
The Grizzly Cubs were led by rounds of 75 from Matt Jordan and Emerson Downing, while Javan Johnson was one stroke back at 76. Blake McIntire rounded out the scoring for the group with a 92.
Franklin was plagued by some putting difficulties Thursday, but with each of its top five players returning, the team is optimistic about its chances to come back and redeem itself next spring.
“We finished strong,” Downing said of the season. “We played really good at sectionals and put up some pretty good numbers at regional. So we’re ready for next year; it’ll be pretty good.”
None of the three area individuals who reached the regional wound up making the state cut. The two Greenwood representatives, Hayden Borges-Hardesty and Eric Moenkhaus, carded scores of 80 and 82, respectively, while Roncalli’s Evan Wray finished at 78.
Having claimed another regional title, Center Grove now looks to win the one championship that has eluded it over the years. After Thursday’s showing, the Trojans like their chances at finally grabbing the brass ring.
“We didn’t play great at sectionals, but we played pretty darn good here,” Shepherd said.