Demonstrating collective passion and motivation for a deep state tournament run, the Center Grove boys golf team is back in the victory circle again.
This time, the Trojans are sectional champions.
Coming off this week’s Johnson County tournament title, the seventh-ranked Trojans won a playoff against Perry Meridian at Friday’s Southport Sectional at Heartland Crossing to earn the title.
After four hours of play, the Trojans — one of the first groups to go out at 7:30 a.m. — matched Perry Meridian with a team score of 293.
In a one-hole playoff Center Grove prevailed when junior Christopher Heck sank a 12-foot birdie putt for the win.
Juniors Zack Carabine and Hayden Martin each finished with a 1-under par 71 in regulation for the Trojans, while Heck carded a 75. Junior Austin Crowder had a 76, and senior Wes Kennel shot 77.
Roncalli finished third with a team score of 316, one stroke better than Franklin (317).
Only the top three teams and top three individuals on non-advancing teams qualify for the regional, June 12 at Champions Pointe Golf Club in Henryville.
Advancing to the regional as individuals are Franklin juniors Jacob Hash, who had a 1-over-par 73, and Spencer Wood who had a 78.
Center Grove has now won 17 sectionals, including seven in the past eight years.
“When you go out as early as we did (7:30), it allows you to set a good pace and get into a good rhythm when the greens are rolling nicely and there are no spike marks,” Heck said. “Last year we fell short of getting out of our regional, so we’ve kind of been playing with a chip on our shoulder.”
“We’ve kind of had a swagger and an intensity to it,” Heck said. “Every tournament we just keep staying mentally focused and taking it one step at a time. We’ve all been thinking about this, getting to state.
“And at the same time, we try to keep things light to keep the pressure off of us.”
Center Grove coach Jim Williams said the competition among his own players been good for everyone.
“We have three or four players averaging 77-78 per round, and they can’t play,” Williams said. “They’re in a situation where they’re playing against guys that are really good. They’ve been through the fire and aren’t scared of anyone.
“We talk about the pressure, and that’s what makes you stronger.”