Saturday, June 8, 2013

Westfield, Carmel boys golf qualify for state tournament; Zionsville falls two shots short

Published in Indianapolis Star Saturday, June 8, 2013

By Clyde Hughes
Star Correspondent
BATTLE GROUND, IND. — Trailing four teams at the turn Friday at the Lafayette Regional, Carmel boys golf coach Chad Carr knew his team was in serious trouble.

But the sixth-ranked Greyhounds improved by four strokes on the back nine at the Battle Ground Golf Course to finish in the all-important third spot, nipping Zionsville by two shots to advance to next week’s state tournament.

Valparaiso won the Regional with a 10-over-par 298, followed by Westfield (300) and Carmel (302). Zionsville’s season concluded with a 304.

“It’s a big weight off my shoulders,” Carr said. “Now we can go into state with a clean slate and compete evenly with everyone else.”

Jake Brown, the Greyhounds’ No. 2 golfer, shot a 72 to help Carmel secure third place.
“I didn’t want to go to state as an individual,” Brown said. “I didn’t play well in sectionals but my team picked me up. I hoped that I would be able to pick them up today. State is going to be fun.”

The tournament was a major disappointment for No. 14 Zionsville, which was tied for the lead with Valparaiso after the first nine holes, only to see things fall apart over the back nine. The Eagles shot a 149 on the front nine, but shot 155 down the stretch. Adam Wood’s 2-under 70 captured individual medalist honors, but it wasn’t enough for the team to extend its season.

“We know in a tournament like this, every stroke counts,” Zionsville coach Steve Simmons said. “We knew it would come down to a shot here and shot there. I'm disappointed but with four of five holes to go we were the owners of our destiny and the tournament and we just let it go. That happens.”

Simmons said missed birdie chances on the final holes sealed the Eagles' fate. He said No. 5 was a killer as well.

“We played that hole five-over as a team,” Simmons said. “We had played so well up to that point. It was just a straight forward, easy hole but for some reason with really struggled on it.”

No. 4-ranked Westfield built on its sectional win, falling just two shots short of the regional title. Freshman Thomas Lewis, the Shamrocks’ No. 3 golfer, shot a 72 to lead Westfield.

“I felt a little pressure but it started to feel good once I began hitting the ball better on the back nine,” Lewis said. “It takes everyone playing well to win here. We knew that if we even had one guy not play well, we would be going home.”

Westfield coach Jon Hoover said Lewis, sophomore Keith Ponsler (74) and senior Colton Smith (75) gave the Shamrocks the lift it needed to challenge for the title.

“I’ve played in tournaments before and I don’t think I could be in these kids’ shoes,” Hoover said. “We saw the scores at the turn and there were five teams within four shots of each other so the pressure was just tremendous. If you can handle that kind of pressure, I have tremendous respect for you.”

Valparaiso captured the sectional title behind Kyle Meihofer’s 71.

“The thing about state is that we have to do it all over again, so there’s no vacation,” Valpo coach Wayne Lichtenberger said. “There was some outstanding competition here and we had a state ranked team go home today. The slate will be clean next week.”

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