Mt. Vernon, New Palestine finish 1-2 in Triton Central Invitational

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Mt. Vernon’s Nils Erkmanis lines up a putt during the Hoosier Heritage Conference tournament earlier this season.

The Daily Reporter File Photo

GREENFIELD — It’ll be the same course with higher stakes, but both Mt. Vernon and New Palestine are moving in the right direction with the Greenfield-Central Boys Golf Sectional just around the corner.

In an inaugural event hosted by Triton Central High School and played at Hawk’s Tail of Greenfield Golf Course, the site of Monday’s sectional tournament, the Marauders and Dragons finished 1-2, respectively, in an eight-team field at Tuesday’s Triton Central Invitational.

Both had season low scores. The Marauders won with a 312. The Dragons shot 345.

“It’s real exciting. I’ve got five guys this year that have broken 80,” Mt. Vernon coach Tom Kirby said of his team’s low score on the sectional course. “As a coach, you’re just hoping that all five can do it on the same day.”

Sophomore Jace Lugar shot a 74. He was tournament runner-up, one stroke behind Triton Central’s Oliver Gearlds.

Nils Erkmanis, who was runner-up at the Hoosier Heritage Conference tournament, and also a sophomore, shot a 75. Asher Cotton had a 79, followed by Brady Pearson with an 84 and Parker White with 87. All three are juniors.

Lugar was a pleasant surprise. Kirby said the sophomore had consistently been in the upper-80s.

“He has the ability. This was the first time he put it all together,” Kirby said.

It was the first time Lugar had been under 80 in a high school meet.

“A lot of them felt they didn’t have their ‘A’ game (Tuesday), but I said this is how you play golf. You learn to score without an ‘A’ game,” Kirby said. “They kept plugging along and playing along and did a great job of it.”

The tournament also included other teams that will be participating Monday. Triton Central was third with 350. Shenandoah shot 354.

For the sectional, the top three teams, and top three individuals not associated with the top three teams, will advance to regional competition.

The Marauders look to be in good shape to move on if they have a similar score. On Monday, Greenfield-Central will join as a co-favorite. The Cougars won the Hancock County championship on the same course and finished just a few strokes behind the Marauders in the HHC meet won by Mt. Vernon earlier this month.

New Palestine coach Chris Story believes his team will be in the hunt for the final transfer spot, but realizes that both Triton Central and Shenandoah weren’t too far behind them Tuesday.

“I told the guys our goal was to get four scores in the 80s and I’d like to get them all around 80,” Story said. “That would put us in the 320 range. That’s the goal and we’re trending in that direction. We just had a couple of silly holes.

“Out of the scores we took, each guy probably had one or two holes where they either took a 7, or 8 and I had one that took a 10 on a par 5. If we can minimize those big numbers, we’re probably somewhere in the 330 range. That would have been nice, but Mt. Vernon is playing some really good golf.”

Alex Cofer led the Dragons with an 83, which including a team-best back nine score of 38.

Following Alex Cofer, Luke Cofer finished with an 84. Landon Beaty had the second best nine-hole score, he shot 40 on the front and finished with an 87. Nick Barada scored 91 and Joey McPike finished with a 92.

“A third team gets out, our goal is to try to slide in one of those spots,” Story said. “Golf’s a crazy game. A one-day tournament it could be anybody.

“I got a couple of guys playing better than what they had been at the beginning of the season. We’re trying to lock in that last spot.”

Other schools that will be in Monday’s sectional include, Eastern Hancock, New Castle, Blue River Valley, Knightstown, Tri, and Union (Modoc).

Tuesday’s win was Mt. Vernon’s second invitational victory of the season. They won the Batesville Invitational earlier this season.