YORKTOWN — Golfers from Mt. Vernon and New Palestine had stretches of strong play on the challenging Players Club at Woodland Trails course in Yorktown, site of Thursday’s Muncie Central Boys Golf Regional.
With just the top three teams —of 18 total — qualifying for next week’s IHSSA Boys Golf State Finals at Carmel’s Prairie View Golf Club, unable to extend those strong periods for 18 holes helped put an end to the Marauders and Dragons 2022 seasons.
Both Mt. Vernon and New Palestine had team scores of 336. They tied for ninth place.
Cathedral and Noblesville tied for low score with 305. The Irish won by having the lowest fifth player’s score. Hamilton Southeastern also advanced with a 309.
Five individuals not associated with the top three teams earned state tournament spots.
That group was led by the tournament’s individual champion Derek Tabor of New Castle. He shot a six-under-par 66. He also won the Greenfield-Central Sectional on Monday at Hawk’s Tail of Greenfield with a round of two-under-par 70. The cut off for the fifth qualifying spot was a round of 75.
The closest county golfer to moving on was New Palestine senior Braeden Baker. He shot a seven-over-par 79.
Opening his round on the back nine, Baker shot a 41. He improved on his final nine holes by carding a 38 on holes 1-9.
“I started off pretty rough,” Baker said. “I went par, double-bogey and then another double. I was five-over-par through my first four holes. I knew I had to turn it around at some point. I started playing a little more conservative and made a few birdies and I tried to stay out of my head.”
Sophomore Asher Cotton had the low round for Mt. Vernon, finishing with an 81.
Like Baker, he had a tough start, shooting a 43 on his first nine holes (also beginning with hole No. 10). He shot a 38, just two-over-par, for his final nine.
“My round started a little down,” Cotton said. “I kept my head clear and finished the round out pretty much playing par golf.
“It was a new nine. I was coming off of a 43. I just told myself to just get some pars and I’d be alright.”
It was a rough day for both team’s No. 1 golfers.
Mt. Vernon freshman Nils Erkmanis, who was runner-up on the course at the Hoosier Heritage Conference tournament last month with a three-over-par 75, shot an 83.
New Palestine’s Matt Barada, who shot a 75, lowest of all county golfers, at Monday’s sectional, finished with an 84.
Both had similar patterns as Baker and Cotton, a difficult beginning, but a better finish.
Erkmanis had a 43 on his first nine. Barada had a 44.
“I hit (out of bounds) on my second hole and made a triple-bogey,” Barada said. “From then on I knew — the cut to go to state is always about 75 or 76 — I was swimming up current. I made a couple of dumb mistakes and let them get to me.
“I feel every time I come out (to Players Club) there is something that I struggle with. Today I struggled with a couple things, but putting especially. I just felt I’d play a putt one way then do the same thing on the next hole and I’d miss it.”
Both teams had three seniors in their five-player lineup.
Baker, Barada and Evan Griffith played their last high school matches for the Dragons. Griffith shot a 95.
Mt. Vernon’s seniors were Kyran Maxfield, Dylan Dreiman and Kreighton Worden.
Maxfield had the lowest round of the Marauders Class of 2022 trio with an 83. Also teeing off on hole No. 10, his 40 on his first-nine was the best start of any county golfer. Dreiman shot an 89 and Worden finished with a 96.
“I actually felt alright,” Maxfield said about his round. “I was kind of on cruise control. Having an 83 after having an 89 at the sectional, I had a lot to work on this past week. I brought back the consistency on the short game. That was the biggest issue. I tried to play the best round I could. It was all bogeys and pars with one birdie on No. 18.”
“It’s a tough field and one that we really can’t compete with yet,” Mt. Vernon coach Tom Kirby said of the regional’s group of 18. “I was proud of the effort our guys put in. We just couldn’t quite pull it off.”
Kirby sees a bright future with Erkmanis and Cotton returning along with Aaron Arkenau, another strong golfer who has missed the last couple of weeks due to injury.
New Palestine graduates its top two golfers in Barada and Baker, who have gone back and forth as the Dragons low medalist. Baker won the nine-hole county tournament, while Barada had the low score at the sectional. Both were all-conference at last month’s HHC meet.
“We won county, finished second at the sectional,” New Palestine coach Chris Story said. “Fifth in conference was a little disappointing, but outside of that, we had some good nine-hole scores and good showings in invitationals. My senior group was fantastic in terms of leadership. I am going to miss those guys next year.”