GREENFIELD — Mt. Vernon boys golf coach Caleb Zelencik’s 2015 goal sheet read like a wishlist trilogy.
No. 1: Win a sixth straight Hancock County Championship. Check.
No. 2: Qualify for the regional round of the state tournament for a third consecutive season. Check.
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No. 3: Shoot better than the 339 the Marauders posted at the Muncie Central Regional last season. Coming Soon.
While Zelencik would have preferred his Mt. Vernon boys had won Monday’s wet and soggy sectional at Hawk’s Tail outright, earning a regional qualifying bid and getting a shot at Goal No. 3, he said, is all that matters.
“Top three,” Zelen said. “We’ll take it.”
Led by sectional runner-up Oliver Mast’s 74, the Marauders cruised to a 327 and a third-place finish in Greenfield. They finished behind defending sectional champion New Castle (313) and Shelbyville (324), as each secured passage to Friday morning’s regional at The Players Club in Muncie.
Mast, the defending individual sectional champion, nearly notched the individual crown for a second straight season, but the sophomore came up empty-handed after two holes of a sudden-death playoff against New Castle’s Drew Saunders.
Mast, who fired an even-par 36 on the front nine applied pressure to Saunders on the first playoff hole. He secured a par and forced Saunders to connect on a pressure-packed six-foot putt to knot the match, which is exactly what he did.
“You have to hand it to him,” Mast said of Saunders afterward. “He totally deserved to win (after hitting that putt).”
The pair proceeded to the second playoff hole, where Mast knocked one out of bounds and could not recover.
Mast, though, said he did not mind losing his crown. All he cared about was helping his Marauders accomplish another one of their goals.
“The goal was to come out here and get to (the) regional,” he said. “For me personally, my goal was to help my team get there. At the end of the day if your score comes in lowest, then it comes in lowest. The focus today was not individual at all.”
Falling in behind Mast were Will Dant (81), Jacob Ault (85) and Jake Yurack 87, making them one stroke better than they were last week at the county tournament.
Zelencik said he was pleased with his team’s execution, especially considering the stormy conditions they were forced to play in.
“You’d think living in Indiana we’d be used to it,” he said. “But everyone has to deal with it. I tell the boys, it affected you like it affected everyone else. And for us to come out … and play better than we did at county is excellent.”
Joining the Marauders at The Player Club on Friday will be Greenfield-Central’s Clayton Long and New Palestine’s Brady Elliott.
Long carded an 80, and his spot in the regional was relatively secure when he finished playing. Elliott, though, breathed a sigh of relief after learning that his uncharacteristic 83 would hold up.
“I played awful today,” said the Dragon, who shot a 76 last week to champion the county tournament. “I just didn’t hit the ball as well as I wanted to. But the good news is I get to keep playing, and hopefully it will be different (for me) Friday.”
Elliott’s Dragons finished fourth overall with a 369. Coming in behind New Palestine’s No. 1 were Matt Kreutzer (92), Nick Lyon (94), Blake Barnette (100).
Following the Dragons were Shenandoah (378), Knightstown (389), Southwestern (390), then Long’s Cougars in eighth place.
For Greenfield-Central, Gage Mann finished second with his 94, followed by Nash Boyk 107 and Christian Henderson 110, giving them a score of 391.
After the Cougars was Eastern Hancock (401), which was led by Cole Allen’s 91. Matt Wilson carded a 96, followed by Nelson Dulin (104) and Kenny Bunnell 110.
Blue River Valley (414), Triton Central (422), Waldron (434) and Morristown (471) rounded on the day’s scoring.
Zelencik knows winning Friday’s regional title is a tall order, and it’s not something he is expecting his Marauders to do. All he wants, he said, is for them to play the same consistent, composed golf they’ve been playing for the past couple of weeks.
“I just want to see us improve,” the coach said. “We shot a 327 today, and last year we shot a 339 at the regional. (The Players Club) is definitely a challenging course, but I want to see us get into the 20s or even the teens, and I think we could do that.”
Thirteen schools competed in Saturday’s Greenfield-Central Sectional at Hawk’s Tail Golf Course in an effort to qualify for Friday’s Muncie Central Regional. Qualifiers are the top three team finishers plus the top three low individuals, excluding those who advance with a team. Here are the results:
Champion: New Castle, 313
Mt. Vernon, 327
New Palestine, 369
Southwestern (Shelby), 390
Eastern Hancock, 401
Blue River Valley, 414
Triton Central, 422
Drew Saunders (New Castle), 74 ##
Oliver Mast (Mt. Vernon), 74
Blake Wheeler (New Castle), 75
Shawn Ewing (Shelbyville), 78
Tyler Kirk (Shelbyville), 78
Connor Ridgeway (Shelbyville), 80
Clayton Long (Greenfield-Central), 80#
Will Dant (Mt. Vernon), 81
Jacob Campbell (New Castle), 81
Trevor Turner (New Castle), 83
Brady Elliott (New Palestine), 83 #
Curt Robbins (Knightstown) 83#
# Advancing without a team
## Won in a playoff
Final Hancock County team scores:
Mt. Vernon (327): Oliver Mast 74, Will Dant 81, Jacob Ault 85, Jake Yurack 87.
New Palestine (369): Brady Elliott 83, Matt Kreutzer 92, Nick Lyon 94, Blake Barnette 100.
Greenfield-Central (391): Clayton Long 80, Gage Mann 94, Christian Henderson 110, Nash Boyk 107.
Eastern Hancock (401): Nelson Dulin 104, Cole Allen 91, Kenny Bunnell 110, Matt Wilson 96.