Mt. Vernon wins sectional preview at Hawk’s Tail

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GREENFIELD — It was the dress rehearsal before the big show.

The big show is Monday, the Greenfield-Central Boys Golf Sectional at Hawk’s Tail of Greenfield Golf Course.

Seven of the 11 teams that will participate in the start of Monday’s IHSAA postseason were part of Wednesday’s Triton Central Invitational held at the Greenfield course.

Triton Central, New Palestine and Greenfield-Central all use Hawk’s Tail as their home course.

Two of those three schools, Triton Central and New Palestine, had two teams in Wednesday’s field. Other schools participating included Eastern Hancock, Mt. Vernon, Blue River Valley, New Castle, and Tri.

Greenfield-Central, Knightstown, Morristown and Shenandoah will play Monday, but were not part of the Triton Central event.

Eastern Hancock head coach Cody Hibbert said playing the course was a great way to prepare for next week’s sectional.

“It’s huge. The most important part — usually when we play here we only play the front nine — we get to play all 18,” Hibbert said. “That’s really what’s important for Monday. We’re familiar with the front because that is what we always play (in dual meets) but we were not as familiar with the back. Getting out here and getting that extra practice is nothing but helpful. It’s nice not having too high of expectations just for this, it’s just a practice round for Monday. That’s the important tournament.”

Eastern Hancock finished fifth with a 352, one of its lower rounds of the year.

Mt. Vernon won the tournament with a score of 328, five strokes ahead of New Palestine’s varsity team (333) and eight ahead of Tri (336).

Other team scores included New Castle 350, New Palestine JV 374, Triton Central 392, Triton Central JV 426 and Blue River Valley 462.

“It means everything to be here and be playing in this format to be ready for the sectional,” Mt. Vernon coach Tom Kirby said. “We learned a few things today that will help us on Monday. Some of the kids – Owen Daugherty for example – had never played the back nine. That’s why it’s always good to play the course.”

Tri’s Gracen Huffman was the individual medalist with a four-over-par round of 76. New Castle’s Matthew Hastings, the Trojans No. 5 golfer, was second with a 79.

Mt. Vernon freshmen Elijah Lemmon and Daugherty tied for third with rounds of 80. New Pal’s Luke Cofer was fifth with an 82. Eastern Hancock’s top golfers, Parker Atkins and Zach Stephens, tied for sixth overall with Mt. Vernon’s Nils Erkmanis and New Palestine’s Nick Barada, all shot 83s.

New Palestine’s Ty Mitchell and Joey McPike were part of a tie for 10th spot with 84s.

Dragons coach Chris Story was glad to get a full 18 holes in on the team’s home course. He said they have played the back nine some in practice, but his group, like others that play duals at Hawk’s Tail, are more familiar with the front nine.

“It was like a practice tournament. There’s a lot of competition and it’s the same course that we’re going to play for the sectional. This kind of atmosphere is great for us, especially 18 holes and playing the back nine,” Story said. “Playing the back nine, in competition mode, even though we’ve done it in practice against ourselves, it’s not the same as playing with other people and getting that pressure. It was nice to get out and shoot some scores and most of our guys think they can do a little better than they did today, that’s promising.”

Eastern’s Atkins had one of the better back nine scores with a 38. Only medalist Huffman, with a 37, shot better. There were only three rounds lower than 40 on the back.

Along with lacking familiarity, players endured rare rough conditions for a late May tournament. Players had to deal with some morning cold temperatures, in the 50s, along with some precipitation.

At Monday’s sectional, the top three team scores will earn advancement into the June 6 regional at The Players Club Golf Course in Muncie. The top three individuals not associated with the top three teams will also advance.

“We know we’re going to have to shoot some low numbers,” Story said. “Mt. Vernon got us by five today, it’s close. Greenfield’s playing some good golf now. We’ll have to clean up a couple of things at practice this week and gear up for Monday.”