Even as Center Grove’s middle school golf coach, Matt Rodman said he never worried about Noah Gillard.
That hakuna matata mindset carried over to this year, when Rodman took over a Center Grove varsity team that had just missed out on a state championship the past two seasons.
Gillard rewarded Rodman’s faith repeatedly this spring, most notably with a final-round 66 that helped the junior claim an individual state championship while also getting the Trojans over the hump as a team.
Not surprisingly, Gillard also is the Daily Journal’s 2017 Player of the Year in boys golf.
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Gillard said that the Trojans came into the season with a chip on their collective shoulder after finishing second in the state in 2015 and third last year, and that those disappointments made the title run even sweeter.
“It was pretty special,” Gillard said. “We got off to a slow start at the beginning of the year, then we talked things out and we really kicked it into gear and went on a run.”
Down by six shots entering the second and final day of the state tournament at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel, Center Grove knew it was capable of putting together a low round — and it did just that. Led by rounds of 66 from Gillard and classmate Sam Jean, the Trojans bulldozed the field en route to a 13-stroke victory.
“It was awesome,” Gillard said. “Everyone was rolling.”
The 6-foot-7 Gillard, who also carded a round of 65 at Prairie View during the MIC tournament, will take his talents to the University of Illinois after he graduates. The Illini recently finished third at this year’s NCAA Championships.
First, though, he’s got one more go-round with the Trojans, one that he hopes will end the same way this one did.
“We’ll try to win it one more time,” Gillard said.
Noah Gillard finished off the season in style with a blistering back nine at Prairie View Golf Club during the final round of the state championship. A look at Gillard’s scorecard over the final nine holes:
The 2017 All-Johnson County Team for boys golf:
Logan Anderson, Center Grove sophomore: Trojans’ No. 5 player tied for 16th individually in the state with a two-day total of 148 at Prairie View GC. … Tied for third at Johnson County tournament with a round of 72.
Luke DeHaven, Center Grove sophomore: Led Trojans with an even-par 71 during sectional at Hickory Stick and added a 1-under 71 at regional; fired a 68 (-4) during MIC tournament and a 72 in county tourney.
Noah Gillard, Center Grove junior: Won individual state championship by two strokes after shooting a 6-under-par 66 on the final day. … Medalist at MIC tournament with a 65 (-7) and at Johnson County tournament with a 68 (-4).
Sam Jean, Center Grove junior: Shot a final-round 66 to help Trojans win first state championship, finishing third individually with a two-round score of 143 (-1). … An IHSGCA All-State selection who carded a 68 at Providence Regional.
Javan Johnson, Franklin junior: Earned a spot on IHSGCA All-State team after averaging 73.4 strokes per 18 holes with a low round of 67. … Medalist at Mooresville tournament (71) and second at Hall of Fame tournament (71) and Trojan Classic (74).
Matt Jordan, Franklin junior: Averaged 77.4 strokes in helping the Grizzly Cubs advance to Providence Regional. … Finished second individually at Center Grove Sectional with a round of 70 and was also runner-up in Mid-State Conference tournament.
Eric Moenkhaus, Greenwood junior: The top player for the Woodmen advanced to Providence Regional as an individual after tying for third individually in the sectional with a 71 at Hickory Stick. … An All-Mid-State Conference selection.
Ethan Shepherd, Center Grove senior: Tied for fourth individually at state finals (144) while helping Trojans win team title. … Shot 67 at MIC tourney and 68 at regional. … An IHSGCA All-State performer who will play at Indiana University.
Hayden Borges-Hardesty, Greenwood; Emerson Downing, Franklin; Jaden Hornbeak, Greenwood