The Warsaw boys golf team is a talented, competitive group that enjoys winning.
WCHS coach Ben Barkey believes that should be plenty of motivation for his seventh-ranked squad going into sectional play Friday.
But, if Warsaw needs just a little more bit of incentive to take the top spot as the favorite in the strong field in its own sectional at the Stonehenge Golf Club all they have to do is look back a year ago. The Tigers, who went on to finish seventh at state, were upended by Triton for the sectional team title. Each team shot 304 in 2011 with the Trojans prevailing on their fifth man tiebreaker score.
“Our guys are competitors that like to win,” said Barkey. “If we need extra motivation to play our best then we need to sort out our priorities.
“We always stress that we play the course not the field. There is nothing we can do that will prohibit a team from playing well.”Warsaw, Triton and Plymouth begin play Friday at Stonehenge with their first groups teeing at 10 a.m. The 10:40 pairings include Culver Academy, Tippecanoe Valley and Wawasee, followed by Columbia City, Wabash and Northfield at 11:20, Culver, Whitko and Bremen at noon and Manchester and Southwood at 12:48.
The top three teams from the sectional, along with the top three individuals not from an advancing team, move on to the Homestead Regional June 7 at Orchard Ridge in Fort Wayne.
The Tigers have plenty to rely on as postseason play begins. They have the defending individual state champion in senior standout Tyler Ostrom, a deep and experienced lineup and they know the layout at Stonehenge like the back of their hands. Ostrom was second at the sectional last year with a 73, runner-up to Triton’s Quentyn Carpenter (70). WCHS put together a program best string of six straight winning performances in invitationals and tournaments this spring before placing third with a 318 at the 20-team Lafayette Jeff tourney last Saturday, an event that Ostrom did not play in just to rest for the postseason.
“It’s hard not to feel great with the season we’ve had,” noted Barkey. “We’re still looking for improvement and tightening up some things, but we are ready for the challenges.
All our guys have played varsity since they were freshmen. That’s a lot of experience that will pay dividend as the tournament gets more competitive.
“Stonehenge is the hardest course we play during tournament time. If we can play well there, then we can play well anywhere. Nothing intimidates us because we all have developed our game on this course. We are very thankful that we have such a great partnership with Stonehenge.”
Warsaw’s lineup features the Ball-State bound Ostrom, along with juniors Jon Schram and Tim Ahlersmeyer, freshman Jonny Hollar and senior Bennett Hollar.Triton coach Jack Carpenter is still looking for all of his players to play their best at the same time. The Trojans struggled at Jeff last weekend with a team score of 347.
“Considering we just shot a whopping 347 (by far the worst round of the year) we are not where we need to be heading into the sectional,” said Carpenter. “We have yet to have a score that represents four players playing their best. The team has possibilities if we can get everyone playing well at the same time. Unfortunately that has not happened.”
Carpenter has been brilliant for the Trojans, especially of late. He was medalist at Jeff with a one-over 73 last Saturday. That followed shooting a blistering round of 65 to earn medalist honors at the Bob Turner Classic hosted by Warsaw at the Tippecanoe Lake Country Club in Leesburg and taking the top spot with a 69 in the Northern State Conference Tournament (won by Triton).
“Quentyn has been the most consistent player all year and I would expect him to challenge for medalist honors and I know that is his goal, as well as helping the team get to the regional,” Carpenter said. “Obviously, Warsaw is head and shoulders above the field. Our main focus is the golf course and how to manage our game to get to the next level. We can’t control how other teams play so we work solely on how to best score at Stonehenge. The kids are always excited about playing with Warsaw because they are the best and what a great challenge for us. From what I know about other teams I believe CMA, Valley, and Plymouth are definitely teams we need to be able to compete with in order to move on.”
Carpenter, a junior, leads Triton into the postseason. The Trojans sectional lineup will also include junior Ryan Rapp, senior Chandler Slone, sophomore Tanner Shepherd and either senior Austin Kanarr or sophomore Lucas Shafer.
Wawasee coach Steve Coverstone has seen his team play through an up-and-down season.
“We need our best effort of the year Friday,” said Coverstone. “It’s a tough sectional to get out of, but our guys have the talent to do it. They have been working hard. We just need all of them to play well Friday.
“Our strategy is to play smart at sectional. That’s what we’ve talked about. On a given day, we have the ability to play well as a group. We want to make Friday that day. We’ll see what happens.”
The Warriors finished in fifth place in the sectional at Stonehenge a year ago as they shot 358. Triton and Warsaw went 1-2 with 304 and Culver Academy was third with a 320.
Wawasee’s probable lineup for Friday would be led by Derek Zurcher and also include Tristen Atwood, Dylan Cousins, Luke Jackson and Maclain Herr.