Tired of coming up short at the IHSAA Boys Golf State Finals, Center Grove decided not to leave anything to chance.
The Trojans crushed the rest of the field during Wednesday’s second and final round, putting up record-shattering numbers and coasting to a 13-stroke victory against runner-up Carmel at Prairie View Golf Club.
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Center Grove finished the 36-hole tournament with a total score of 573, two shots better than the previous team mark set by Westfield in 2013. The Trojans’ second-day score of 281 (7 under) also was two strokes better than any team had posted for 18 holes.
“This is unreal,” said junior Noah Gillard, who claimed an individual state crown as well. “This feeling is awesome. The last two years we came just short, and it kind of left a chip on my shoulder knowing that we’ve been 1 in the state the past two years and haven’t come through.
“I knew this team could win it, and we did.”
Down by six strokes after Tuesday’s opening round, Center Grove fell behind by as many as eight early Wednesday when Carmel’s Cole Harris birdied three of the first four holes.
Center Grove, though, played the sixth through ninth holes at 1 over par while Carmel was 8 over — tightening the deficit to one stroke at the turn.
“I felt like we had some good momentum,” Center Grove coach Matt Rodman said. “I felt like we were hitting the ball really well, which is what made me feel good. So the kids were positive, they were encouraged, they were feeling really good about where they stood.”
Once the ripples formed into a wave, they became a tsunami quickly. The Trojans took the lead for the first time with Jean’s birdie on 12 and continued to build on it down the stretch.
Jean wound up with five birdies on the back nine and Gillard added four as the two juniors each finished the day with a round of 66.
“I started off slow on the front nine, but I’d say what got me going was an up-and-down on 10 from the weeds,” Gillard said. “That boosted my confidence, and I birdied 11 and 12 — and I saw a couple of my teammates birdie, so I knew we were right there. And I was just feeling it my last four holes.”
While the big rounds from Gillard and Jean were a big factor in Center Grove’s sweeping comeback, Rodman was quick to credit sophomore Logan Anderson, who was able to keep himself together in the No. 5 position and finish at 76, giving the Trojans a solid fourth score.
Anderson, who had come in with an even-par 72 on Tuesday, finished the tournament tied for 16th individually at 148. Jean bounced back from an opening-round 77 to finish third with a 1-under-par 143, and senior Ethan Shepherd wound up tied for fourth at 144.
This group could be far from done — with only Shepherd, an Indiana University recruit, graduating, the Trojans will likely be considered among the favorites here next June.
For now, though, they’re just savoring this moment — one it seems as though they’ve been waiting forever for.
“It means so much,” Jean said. “I’m such good friends with all these kids on the team, and it’s such a great team. It feels so good to be able to win it finally.”