Cougars grab first boys golf sectional championship since 1997


GREENFIELD — It was on the same golf course and with players with the same last name, but it’s been 26 years in between sectional championships for the Greenfield-Central boys golf team.

On Monday, at Hawk’s Tail of Greenfield — the longtime home of the Greenfield-Central Sectional — the Cougars shot a season-low 319 to win the program’s first sectional title since 1997.

Greenfield-Central, second-place Mt. Vernon (324) and third-place New Palestine (341) will all advance to Thursday’s Muncie Central Regional at The Players Club in Yorktown.

In 1997, Doug Young, who is now a Greenfield-Central assistant coach, spent time as the No. 1 golfer for the Cougars. On Monday, his sons, junior Tyler Young and sophomore Avery Young, helped bring the hardware back to the G-C trophy case for the first time since he was a senior in high school.

“Pride. An unbelievable amount of pride in how hard they’ve worked and I’m happy to see them get to this point,” Doug Young said of his sons’ contributions to the sectional championship. “I had no idea (it had been that long) until I saw a tweet that was sent out. I was surprised. (The boys and I) all kind of had a laugh about it. One of them said, ‘Apparently it’s been too long if you were in high school.’ I can’t really argue with them on that.”

Avery Young shot a team-best 76, four-over-par. It was his lowest round of the season. He was one of only four golfers to shoot under 80. Individual honors went to Triton Central’s Oliver Gearlds with a 74. Mt. Vernon’s Nils Erkmanis was second with a 75.

“My mental game (was the difference), staying in after having a low front nine (35) and not blowing up on the back,” Avery said. “It’s come a long way since the beginning of the season. My mental game and my short game have improved to get to this point.”

Tyler Young shot an 81.

“I was shocked that G-C hadn’t won since 1997. That one caught me off guard,” Tyler said. “It was a really cool moment (to share with my dad and brother). I didn’t play well, myself, but I’m glad my teammates were there to help get me back on track and keep our score low. Avery played amazing.”

Bryce Hasty, one of two seniors, playing in the team’s No. 4 position, shot a season-best 80.

“If you’re going to have any kind of success at this level you really should be deep, probably down to your No. 6 and No. 7,” Greenfield-Central head coach Cliff Henderson said.

The depth and play from those down the lineup (Avery Young is the team’s No. 3), was crucial, especially when the team’s top golfer was far from full strength.

No. 1 golfer Josh Alley, the other senior, shot an 82, but it may have been the most impressive round of the day.

Alley, who works at the course, was mowing fairways last Tuesday. It was during a high school tournament and on Hole No. 9 when a stray shot from one of the golfers hit him in the chest.

“(He) was hitting over from the cornfields and I was under a tree,” Alley, the team captain, said. “I needed to move up a little bit and I see him hit and I see that the ball was hooking. I look up and the ball is coming right at me from 15-20 feet away, right to the chest.”

He suffered a fractured rib, but realizes it could have been much worse.

“I went to the med-check and they said if it would have hit an inch up it would have hit my collarbone and a few more inches up my face, and to the left, my heart. Those are three places you do not want to get hit,” Alley said.

He said he began feeling pain around holes No. 12 and No. 13.

“We limped him along until (Monday),” Henderson said. “He pulled through. I was really impressed. I thought if we could get somewhere around an 83 or 84 out of him we’d be competitive. He came in under that.

“Anytime you have your team captain, going through adversity, step up and show up to play and play well that sets a standard and bar for other people to achieve. We talk about leadership, both golf-related and how the sport relates to life. As leaders, as you go they go. He pushed forward and fought through the pain.”

Mt. Vernon’s Erkmanis, like Avery Young, had a one-under-par 35 on the front nine, tying for the best nine-hole score of the day.

New Palestine’s low score came from No. 5 golfer Joey McPike. He shot an 83.

Eastern Hancock finished sixth with a 368. Jacob Jackson led the Royals with an 87.

2023 Greenfield-Central Boys Golf Sectional

Team scores: Greenfield-Central 319, Mt. Vernon 324, New Palestine 341, Shenandoah 343, New Castle 351, Eastern Hancock 368, Triton Central 372, Blue River Valley 383, Knightstown 383, Tri 411, Union (Modoc) 434.

*Individual scores

Greenfield-Central (319): Josh Alley 82, Tyler Young 81, Avery Young 76, Bryce Hasty 80, Jonathan Smith 90.

Mt. Vernon (324): Aaron Arkenau 85, Nils Erkmanis 75, Asher Cotton 83, Brady Pearson 86, Jace Lugar 81.

New Palestine (341): Alex Cofer 85, Luke Cofer 87, Landon Beaty 86, Nick Barada 89, Joey McPike 83.

Eastern Hancock (368): Ronnie Johnson 104, Corey Leece 94, Jacob Jackson 87, Parker Atkins 90, Zach Stephens 97.

*Hancock County schools