Erkmanis runner-up, Marauders third at HHC boys golf tournament

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Mt. Vernon’s Nils Erkmanis on the eighth tee at Hawk’ss Tail during the Hancock County meet on Wednesday, May 5, 2022. (Tom Russo/Daily Reporter)

YORKTOWN — The score was better, but the position dropped a couple rungs on the Hoosier Heritage Conference ladder.

Attempting to defend its HHC boys golf title — the program’s first — Mt. Vernon shot 12 strokes better than it did in its 2021 title-winning performance, but a round of 323, Saturday at The Players Club at Woodland Trails, was only good enough for third.

Yorktown, with a score of 319, won on its home course. New Castle, led by individual champion Derek Tabor’s 2-under-par 70, was second with 321.

There were only nine strokes separating the first four teams. Pendleton Heights took the fourth spot with a 328. Only six strokes separated the top-four a year ago in the ultra-competitive conference.

Hancock County tournament champion New Palestine was fifth with a 339. Greenfield-Central was seventh with a 350. The Dragons and Cougars finished in the same positions last year but, like the Marauders, had better team scores. New Pal was eight strokes stronger in this year’s tournament. The Cougars took 22 shots off their 2021 total.

Mt. Vernon freshman Nils Erkmanis was the tournament runner-up with a 3-over-par 75. Marauder Dylan Dreiman also earned all-conference honors tying for eighth place with an 81.

“We’ve been struggling as a team and this is 12 shots better than we did last year (and season-low score) and it puts us in third here,” Mt. Vernon coach Tom Kirby said. “I’m not disappointed at all in the direction we are going.

“Nils shooting 75, that’s his first round where he was very comfortable. It was more like he ought to be doing. He’s been struggling being able to score and a lot of it is getting use to high school golf which is different than the summer tournament golf. This is team golf. You’re playing for not only yourself but the team. It’s different and he’s just getting broke in.”

Erkmanis was five strokes off the champion Tabor and finished one shot ahead of Yorktown’s Christian Groves, whose 76 was low score for the tournament champions.

“I just felt really calm,” Erkmanis said of his round. “I’ve been struggling over the past month with my game. Once I relaxed my swing and felt everything was together, it went really well. I also putted pretty well and that is also something I’ve been struggling with.”

“It means a lot (to finish second). We’ve been struggling this year a little bit. Today makes it feel a little better. I felt I contributed. It’s a great feeling, especially out here (at the conference tournament).”

New Palestine had two all-conference golfers. Braeden Baker shot a 77 to finish fourth. Matthew Barada was part of the four-way tie for eighth with an 81.

Mt. Vernon’s Aaron Arkenau just missed all-HHC honors with an 82, as did Greenfield-Central’s low golfer, Josh Alley, who also carded an 82.

“It’s a confidence booster for our program,” Erkmanis added on the team’s strong performance. “Twelve shots better, even though we didn’t come out with the victory, we have something to be proud about and we can move one with this performance going into (the post season).”

Jace Lugar rounded out Mt. Vernon’s scoring golfers with an 85. Teammate Kyran Maxfield was close behind with an 86.

For New Palestine, following the all-conference performances from Baker and Barada, Landon Beaty shot 90. Gus Walling had a 91 and Evan Griffith finished with a 95.

For the Cougars, Tyler Young finished with an 85. Bryce Hasty carded a 91 and Avery Young scored 92.

2022 Hoosier Heritage Conference Golf Tournament

Team scores: Yorktown 319, New Castle 321, Mt. Vernon 323, Pendleton Heights 328, New Palestine 339, Shelbyville 346, Greenfield-Central 350, Delta 361

All-HHC: Derek Tabor, New Castle, 70; Nils Erkmanis, Mt. Vernon, 75; Christian Groves, Yorktown, 76; Braeden Baker, New Palestine, 77; Dillon Bergum, New Castle, 78; Sam Denny, Pendleton Heights, 78; Evan Walsh, Yorktown, 79; Dylan Dreiman, Mt. Vernon, 81; Matthew Barada, New Palestine, 81; Cohen Gray, Pendleton Heights, 81; Marshall Johnston, Yorktown, 81

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