FISHERS — For the just the second time all season, the Mt. Vernon golf team lost a dual. Firing a 165 on Tuesday at Gray Eagle Golf Course, the Marauders came up seven strokes short behind host Fishers (158), but the mood was right on par.
Battling the rain, like most teams this spring, the early portion of the season forced a handful of cancellations, including two home matches at Arrowhead Golf Course in Greenfield. Practices have been limited to the driving range on countless occasions.
While inconvenient, coach Caleb Zelencik’s “road team” has embraced the unexpected and used it to build chemistry and confidence with their bigger goals still ahead.
“Other than I’m getting sick of driving the bus, it’s not bad,” Zelencik laughed. “But honestly, playing other courses helps us. We have to adjust and adapt on the fly. That’s good for these guys, especially once you hit the state tournament, because we’re not at home ever.”
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The Marauders have played at home twice. The first was during the Mt. Vernon Invitational on April 23 when they placed first with an 18-hole score of 312. Oliver Mast shot a 72 for medalist honors.
The other was this past Monday against Rushville with the Marauders (5-2) winning 153-180 as Mast once again finished medalist at 35.
Against Fishers, Mast was medalist for a fifth time this year, shooting a Par 36.
Sophomore Xavier Dunham followed with a 41, while junior Will Dant and senior Jacob Ault both carded 44s.
The team score marked the Marauders’ fourth-best nine-hole score. Their top total unfolded Monday while they posted 164s in wins against both Hancock County rivals Greenfield-Central (164-195, April 25) and New Palestine (164-189, May 2). They shot a 161 against Yorktown (156) and Lapel (173) last month.
“Team-wise I think we’ve slightly underachieved, but we still haven’t changed our goals,” Mast said. “We’re coming around, but we haven’t quite had that day where we’ve all come together to shoot really good scores. Monday was the closest day being our first home match. We’ll get there.”
The past two weeks have propelled them closer to their ambition. With five matches packed into their schedule since May 2, the Marauders have another away match before the Hoosier Heritage Conference Tournament at 1 p.m. Saturday at Hawk’s Tail Golf Course in Greenfield.
“Having a lot of warm-up rounds at Hawk’s Tail (against Greenfield-Central and New Palestine) and having county and conference there will help us a lot come sectional,” Mast said. “Sectional is the most important.
“The schedule has been packed, but that’s good. You need to be playing a lot of golf now, especially competitive rounds. They’re all learning experiences.”
Mast figured out a few things on the fly against Fishers. Through nine holes, he had six pars and two bogeys on the third and fourth holes. He capped the day with a 2-under par birdie on the ninth hole.
“Personally, it’s been a bit of a struggle this year. I’ve been hitting the ball the best I’ve ever have in my life, but I just can’t score,” said Mast, who advanced to the IHSAA state finals as an individual last season. “It’s flip-flopped on me from last year, but you want to be hitting the ball great.
“A lot of it has been distance control. Once that gets dialed in, I’ll be fine. Come sectional, it will be wheel and deal.”
In Friday’s match against Shelbyville — the team’s fifth dual and sixth event in 11 days — the Marauders will look for the pieces to fall into place and carry over into conference.
Celencik knows the potential is there with Dunham shooting a 36 for medalist against Triton Central on May 4, Dant taking medalist with a 36 at Lapel in early April and the team posting a 330 at the Center Grove Trojan Classic last month.
At last weekend’s Batesville Invitational, the Marauders were seventh out of 12 teams with a 357. Mast led the group with an 83.
“We know New Castle is loaded and will be tough as nails at conference. Yorktown is ranked 13th at this point, so they’re really good. Shelbyville beat us last weekend, so we have a score to settle there,” Celencik said. “Doing well at conference is a huge goal, and I think we’re in the right place mentally to do well.”
Fishers 158, Mt. Vernon 165
at Gray Eagle Golf Course
Medalist: Oliver Mast, Mt. Vernon (36)
Mt. Vernon: Oliver Mast 36, Will Dant 44, Jacob Ault 44, Xavier Dunham 41, Max Heitman 46, Blake Johnson 48.
Fishers: Noah Chamberlain 40, Shivom Patel 38, Nick Fisher 38, Garrett Allen 43, Drake Anderson 42.