WARSAW – Commitment. Confidence. Consistency.
The deep and talented Warsaw boys golf team have used those attributes to achieve another stellar season this spring.
Now, the No. 7 Tigers hope “The Three C’s” add up to an A plus performance in the State Finals starting Tuesday.
Warsaw, which won the Homestead Regional championship Thursday by 14 strokes, is one of 21 teams entered in the season’s final event. The State Finals is set for Tuesday and Wednesday at The Legends Golf Club in Franklin, south of Indianapolis.
The experienced Tiger lineup knows its way around the Legends layout. Four of the five members of the team, seniors Tyler Ostrom and Bennett Hollar and juniors Jon Schram and Tim Ahlersmeyer, played there last year as Warsaw finished in seventh place. Senior standout Ostrom, who will play collegiately at Ball State, won the individual state title in 2011 with a two-day total of 137. He shot an amazing 63 on the par 72 layout the first round to tie the state finals and course record.
“Right now, all I’m worried about is the team,” said Ostrom prior to practice Friday at Stonehenge. “I have no expectations about myself. I just want to help the team as much as possible. My goal is for the team, not me as an individual. I want the big trophy for the team.
“All year we’ve looked at this as our final goal. We’re going in there to try and win a state championship. We have the ability and talent to do it. This team is capable of a lot. It just depends on how we play on that day and how we handle the pressure of the big stage.”
Ostrom, who says he’s played about 30 rounds at The Legends, will be joined by fellow senior Hollar, juniors Schram and Ahlersmeyer and freshman Jonny Hollar. This is the fourth straight trip to State for the Tigers and the seventh time the team has qualified under 10th year coach Ben Barkey, who guided Warsaw to a state championship in 2005.
Schram, who shot back-to-back rounds of 80 at State in 2011, says the confidence level is high.
“I think our confidence is definitely higher this year,” said Schram, who made a great recovery Thursday with a 36 on the back nine to shoot 77 at the regional. “All of us know what we have to do. All of us have the game to score well there. For me, I just have to eliminate mistakes and play safe. The key for me is the first 5-6 holes. That’s my focus. I need to play those well and build my rhythm for the round.”
Barkey, a former standout himself at WCHS, says the goal for his tradition-rich program is no different this year than any previous years.
“We want to win,” said Barkey without hesitation. “Our goal every year is to be in position to compete and win a state championship. That’s the goal this year and it will be the goal next year.
“We’ve got great guys on this team and they all believe. Nothing changes at this point. This is no different. We have the same five players, the same coach and we go with the same preparation and the same approach and fundamentals.
“Who knows what will happen at State. You never, never know. We just need to take one shot at a time, play the course and focus on our game the best we can. All the other stuff will take care of itself. But, if we do what we need to we’ll be winners no matter what.”
Bennett Hollar is pumped up to play his final high school rounds at the State Finals again. Hollar, who shot 79 at the regional, had rounds of 88 and 87 at State in 2011.
“I’m just really looking forward to it,” said the elder Hollar, who will continued his golf career at Wheaton College. “All season we’ve talked about contending for a state title. We have a lot more confidence this year. All five of us are playing pretty well. The thing is that we still have not played that round to all of our potential. I just hope we do it at State.”
Ahlersmeyer, who was the medalist for the Tigers at the NLC Tournament, expects big things from himself and his teammates down state.
“We can do it this year,” said Ahlersmeyer, who shot 77 in the regional as Warsaw won the program’s seventh regional title with a 308. “It’s all about confidence and worrying about ourselves. It’s all about executing and keeping that competitive edge. I’ve played Legends about 15 times. I love it. It’s open and there are a lot of birdie holes. I always have the mindset to win. To go low and score low.”
Ahlersmeyer had rounds of 77 and 84 at State last year as the Tigers finished with a two-day total of 613, 22 strokes behind champion Brebeuf (591).
Jonny Hollar doesn’t expect playing in the biggest event of the season to be a big deal.
“I don’t think nerves will affect me,” said the talented freshman, who shot 81 at the regional. “I’m confident and have felt pressure before playing in tournaments. It definitely helps that I’ve watched Bennett all three years at State. It’s nice having Tyler for advice and Bennett is a good leader. I just plan to take a shot at a time and play for the team.”
A total of 21 teams, including Northridge, Penn and Mishawaka Marian, will begin play Tuesday in the 76th State Finals in Franklin. First tee times are slated for 7:30 a.m. The top nine teams in the first round Tuesday and any team within 12 strokes of the lead will advance to Wednesday. Also advancing will be the top nine individuals, excluding those who advance with a team, and any individuals within four strokes of the lead. Teams tied for ninth place and medalists tied for ninth place will also advance.
Warsaw will begin first-round play Tuesday with Jonny Hollar the first to tee off at noon. Bennett Hollar tees at 12:09, followed by Ahlersmeyer at 12:18, Schram at 12:27 and Ostrom at 12:36. The Tigers lineup will be paired with players from Zionsville and Valparaiso.