GREENFIELD — Rain posed an early temporary nuisance, but skies cleared and 12 teams eventually completed Monday’s IHSAA boys golf sectional at Hawk’s Tail of Greenfield hosted by Greenfield-Central High School.
In the end, three complete teams advanced to the regional along with three individuals with the highest scores who were not on that trio of teams.
One of those three teams advancing to the regional is New Castle. The Trojans shot their best team score of the season for 18 holes with a 319, good enough for second place and four strokes behind sectional champion Mt. Vernon (Fortville), which carded a score of 315.
Hoosier Heritage Conference teams had a clean sweep of the top three team placings, as New Palestine was third with a 330. So the Marauders, Trojans, and Dragons will compete as complete teams in Thursday’s IHSAA regional at The Players Club in Yorktown and hosted by Muncie Central.
Finishing fourth through 12th, respectively, in the team standings were Shenandoah 350, Greenfield-Central 352, Shelbyville 361, Triton Central 366, Morristown 388, Southwestern (Shelby) 408, Eastern Hancock 415, Blue River Valley 461, and Knightstown incomplete.
New Castle junior Derek Tabor has had an outstanding season on the links and continued it Monday, shooting a three-under-par 69 to become medalist of this sectional, one stroke better than Mt. Vernon’s Sam McWilliams, who shot 70.
As one might surmise from his score, Tabor had almost no problems at Hawk’s Tail. He shot a 34 on the front nine and a 35 on the back nine for his 69.
On the front nine, Tabor hit par on five holes, had birdies on holes No. 2, 8, and 9, and had a bogey only on hole No. 6. On the back nine, Tabor hit par on eight holes and birdied hole No. 14.
“This was our best team score of the year,” Tabor remarked afterward, “and to get it despite the rain earlier today was pretty impressive. My driving was pretty good today, as I was hitting most of the fairways, and other parts of my game were pretty solid. (Cole) Wheeler’s score really helped us today.”
Trojan teammate, junior Dillon Bergum, had the third-best score at Monday’s sectional with a 76. Bergum hit 41 on the front nine, but a much batter 35 on the back nine for his 76.
Bergum was sailing along on the front nine, hitting par on the first six holes, before running into a few problems on the final three holes. Bergum bogied hole No. 7 and hit double bogeys on both holes No. 8 and 9.
However, Bergum had a fine performance on the back nine, hitting par on another six holes, birdies on holes No. 12 and 15, with only one bogey on hole No. 11.
“I did a OK on a day like this,” Bergum said afterward. “Generally, the team can count on me, Derek, and Matthew (Gerth) shooting in the 70s or better, and that’s what happened. Derek and I were putting under umbrellas early in the day, and I think putting was one of the better parts of my game today. I hit a 40-footer for a birdie on one hole.”
New Castle junior Matthew Gerth tied Mt. Vernon’s Aden Capaletti and New Pal’s Matt Barada for the fourth-best score in the sectional. All three shot 77.
Gerth was pretty consistent, with a 39 on the front nine and a 38 on the back nine. Gerth bogied the first three holes on the front nine before hitting par on the next six. On the back nine, Gerth hit par on five holes, bogeys on holes No. 10, 12, and 15, but came back with his only birdie of the day on hole No. 16.
Trojan sophomore Cole Wheeler finally broke 100 for 18 holes, shooting a 97 for New Castle’s fourth score toward its team total.
Wheeler shot 49 on the front nine, hitting par on holes No. 7 and 9, and carded a 48 on the back nine, ending his day by shooting par on holes No. 15, 17, and 18.
“My brothers were in town, and practicing with them the past couple of days helped me a lot,” Wheeler explained. “This is the first time I have hit under 100 for 18 holes this year, and the sectional was a good time to do it. I need to do it again on Thursday.”
Dakota Smitherman had the fifth Trojan score with a 111. Smitherman hit 53 on the front nine and 58 on the back nine.
“I was pretty pleased with the way we played today,” New Castle Coach John Burdsall remarked in his final IHSAA tournament guiding the Trojans. “Mt. Vernon was just a little better, they played really well, too, and hats off to them. Derek always plays well, Dillon was a bit up-and-down but still scored in the mid-70s, Matthew had a good score, and Cole got got under 100 and knows he can do it now.”
Shenandoah’s Jordan Zody shot a 78, which tied him with Triton Central’s Oliver Gearlds for the best score for an individual not on a team qualifying for the regional.
Morristown’s Asher Caldwell and Triton Central’s Evan Uhls tied for the next-best score for individuals not on regional qualifying teams with 81 apiece, so a playoff was held before the awards ceremony to determine who would be the third individual who would advance to the regional.
Caldwell defeated Uhls in that playoff on hole No. 1, so he, Zody, and Gearlds will join the teams from Mt. Vernon, New Castle, and New Palestine as the representatives from this sectional at Thursday’s regional.
Zody’s 78 was achieved by shooting 38 on the front nine and 40 on the back nine.
On the front nine, Zody shot par on five holes, bogied holes No. 2, 3, and 9, and birdied hole No. 8. Zody’s back nine was a bit different, as he birdied hole No. 10, hit par on hole No. 11, and then bogied holes No. 12 through 16 before hitting par on holes No. 17 and 18.
“I’m pretty pleased with my score today,” Zody said. “When I started to get into some trouble, I just steadied myself. My putting was pretty good with a lot of one-putts. There were a few sprinkles of rain early-on, but they didn’t pose any problems.”
Other scores for the Raiders were Ryan Craig (43-42, 85); Cohen Shores (48-42, 90); Landon Harter (48-49, 97); and Andrew Bennett (52-52, 104).
Knightstown has just three golfers competing on Monday, so it did not have a complete team score.
Leading the way for the Panthers was Peyton Inman, who shot 42 on the front nine and 48 on the back nine for a score of 90. Other Knightstown players and their scores were Cooper Ware (56-50, 106) and Heath Goodman (57-59, 116).
Blue River Valley was led on Monday by its No. 4 golfer, Eli Sayre, who shot 52 on the front nine and 56 on the back nine for a 108.
Other scores for the Vikings were Carter McGrady (57-56, 113); Zayne Parrish (60-56, 116); Brevin Hallatt (57-67, 124); and Connor Swoveland (61-66, 127).
Thursday’s regional at The Players Club, which commences at 8 a.m., also will include qualifiers from the Indianapolis Cathedral, Monroe Central, Noblesville, Norwell, and Richmond sectionals.
“The Players Club is always challenging at the regional,” Burdsall added. “We missed getting to the state finals as a team by one stroke two years ago with a slightly different team. Derek has an excellent shot to get there and others might, too, if we don’t get there as a team. We’ll practice Tuesday and Wednesday and see what we can do Thursday.”