On a day ruled by Columbus North, the Center Grove boys golf team made the most of its first trip to the IHSAA Boys Golf State Finals since 2008.
Second-ranked Columbus North, which had two players tie for medalist honors, cruised to the championship with a two-day score of 591, well ahead of second-place and defending champion Westfield (603), during Wednesday’s final round at The Legends Golf Club in Franklin.
Top-ranked Hamilton Southeastern finished third with a 602.
Although the Trojans were off contention pace, they finished sixth in the 15-team field with a 612.
Leading the way for Center Grove for the second straight day was junior Christopher Heck, who carded a one-over par 73, duplicating his score from Tuesday.
For his efforts, Heck earned all-state honors by finishing in a tie for 10th place among individuals.
“I feel good,” Heck said. “It was definitely a learning experience and a different atmosphere than any other tournament I’ve played in. We just tried to play our game and keep grinding like we said before.
“The idea is really not to force the birdies to come but make up shots when they come to us.”
First-year coach Jim Williams, who also coaches the school’s girls golf team, had no complaints about the Trojans’ performance on a hot, muggy day at The Legends. Moreover, he is confident the experience will pay off next season.
With only one senior, Wes Kennell, in the five-player lineup, the Trojans anticipate the return of four starters next season.
“I think they really settled down and knew what they had to do going into it,” Williams said. “We left ourselves short of a championship but sure made us feel a little more comfortable going into next year. We talked four months ago about where we wanted to be at this stage in mid-June, and that was right here. And to the kids’ credit, they got us here.
“These kids are the foundation of our goal, and that’s to be here for 10 years. With the kids we have coming up in the program, we want to keep building each year so that we’re here year after year.”
Kennell concluded the tournament, and his high school career, with the Trojans’ third-best score, a two-day total of 153 (77-76).
Meanwhile, the Trojans’ No. 1 player, junior Austin Crowder, fired a 2-over par 74 to go with his Tuesday score of 78 for a 152.
Juniors Zack Carrabine and Hayden Martin closed with scores of 163 (82-81) and 164 (85-79).
“I think all five guys on our team are very comfortable playing with the best teams and best players in the state,” Crowder said. “Throughout the season we went head-to-head with the best and proved ourselves. For those guys who are coming up through our program, we want to keep encouraging them to get better so one day they, too, can enjoy this experience.
“That’s what we did this year. We all improved our games dramatically.”
Powering the championship team, Columbus North, were seniors Christian Fairbanks and Michael VanDenter. They tied for medalist honors, with each posting a two-day score of 141.