WINONA LAKE – For the second year in a row, Warsaw’s eyes widened while Triton’s eyes burned red.
In what almost shaped into 2012 2.0, Warsaw needed every stroke it could muster to card its championship 314, one stroke better than Triton’s 315 and five better than upstart Columbia City’s 319 in the 2013 IHSAA Warsaw Boys Golf Sectional held at Stonehenge Country Club.
Needing a fifth-man score to beat Triton last June, Warsaw almost fell into a similar circumstance as putts were rolling awry and no one seemed to step forward with a take-charge score to which Warsaw has become accustomed on an annual basis. But, all is well for the Tigers, claiming its 26th sectional title and fourth in the past five seasons. Only Triton’s lone title in 2011 muffles the streak.
For the coaches, completely different views on the matter.
“Obviously, winning is great, but you like to have that competitive rivalry with a school,” began Warsaw head coach Ben Barkey. “For the past nine years, we have had a competitive rivalry with (Triton) and Wawasee. When I first started, us and Wawasee were going back and forth. But this one, it puts a lot of perspective on what the Carpenters have done for the Triton program and what they have done.
“It’s bittersweet. With Quentyn now a senior, and Griffyn and TJ going back, it’s been really fun going up against them.”
A frustrated and visibly upset Triton skipper Jack Carpenter chose his words carefully immediately after the scores were announced.
“It’s very disappointing to be honest,” Carpenter said. “I’m very, very proud of my one and two, I would put those two up against any two in the state. But my three, four and five have got to step up. We cannot ride the coattails of our one and two. The further we get into competition, the tougher the competition is going to be.
“They need to step up their play and start playing like they are capable of playing.”
Carpenter’s sentiments held plenty of water for a tournament that had an approximate 45-minute rain delay to the start of Friday’s play. Senior Ryan Rapp, who is headed to Marian University next year on scholarship, seemed unaffected by the late start by posting the round of the day with a vibrant three-under 68. Rapp birdied three of his first four holes, and finished with three birdies on his final six holes to shoot 34 on the front and back nines.
“To start off, it was very windy on the first few holes, and to get up and down on the first hole then birdie the next three, I was very comfortable. Everything was going right,” Rapp said. “On the range before the start, I started out with a little bit of a bad attitude. Why can’t we ever get good weather here? But after the first couple of holes, my attitude changed. The weather is the same for everyone, and I made a couple shots. After that, I just relaxed and played golf.”
Ball State-bound Quentyn Carpenter had a great drive on eight to help his birdie, and other than two bogeys, shot a one-over 72 for the third-best score of the tournament. Columbia City’s Tyler Green shot an even 71 as runner-up medalist.
Triton’s scores, however, would fall off as coach Carpenter eluded, with an 87 from Lucas Shafer, 88 from Tanner Shepherd and 95 from Greg Music.
“I don’t understand how we start so well on what is usually the harder side and then come over here and lose ground,” Carpenter stated of the current front nine, which through last year’s tournament was the former back-nine, now reversed. “We have now done that for the last two years being behind Warsaw (on the old front). We used to pick up strokes on the other side. I was pleased with the 157 on the front today, I just don’t know what happened when we crossed the street.”
The imbalance was key as Warsaw turned in a level showing from its varsity five.
The trademark demeanor of future Quentyn Carpenter teammate at Ball State, Jon Schram, again set the tone for the Tigers, shooting a 76 without much fanfare of flare. Carding birdies on 11 and 12, Schram gave the strokes away with a double on 14, but parred his final four holes, including a huge putt on 18 to effectively save the day for Warsaw.
Jonny Hollar and Evan Cultice both shot 79s for the Tigers, Hollar posting a 37 on the back nine and Cultice a 38 on the back. Will Petro, the Northern Lakes Conference co-champion, posted an 80 despite sending several extra putts around the green and the usually eagle-eyed Tim Ahlersmeyer fell apart on his first hole and had a couple hiccups along the way, but still shot an 84, which was still one of the better individual marks on the day.
“Being able to beat a team with a score in the 60s for the first time this year says a lot for our team and our consistency,” Barkey said. “I knew we were OK at the turn, even though we played bad, because we had scores one through five that were better than their three and four scores were going to be. I knew for us to win, our three and four scores were going to be the difference. That gave me a lot of confidence even though as a coach I was kind of frustrated the way we started.”
Triton actually held a six-stroke edge on Columbia City at the turn, while Warsaw were seven back, the Academy nine back and Huntington North 10 back.
Columbia City also move onto next Thursday’s Warsaw Regional as the third-best team score with its 319, highlighted by Green’s 71 but also a 77 from Spencer Klimek. Cameron Slavich added an 84 and Max Dryer an 87 to complete the Eagle’s advancing tally.
Advancing as individuals are the Plymouth duo of Nate Kolter (78) and Ben Shenk (80) as well as Culver Academy’s Ben Sharff, posting a fine round of 74.
Whitko fared well on the tough course, landing in eighth place overall at 350. Leading the charge for the Wildcats was Danny Zawlocki at 84 with teammates Cole Bechtold and Colton LeTourneau tied at 88 and Will Peters carding a 90.
“Our kids played OK, they didn’t play bad, they didn’t play great, they just played OK,” began Whitko head coach Don Zawlocki, overviewing the 13th green as play unfolded. “I’m not disappointed. If Dan can make a couple shots, maybe he has a chance to get out. This is a tough course, and as a golf coach, all we hope for is a chance.”
Tippecanoe Valley were not far behind its Three Rivers Conference rivals at 356. Bryce Zimpleman just missed out on a regional berth with his 81, rallying from a six-over front side to shoot a 39 on the back nine. Tanner Neeley posted a respectable 83, Trevor Neeley a 91 and Ben Shriver a 101.
“I thought if we could just get through the first four holes without a catastrophe, you have a chance to play the front nine successfully,” stated Valley head coach Roger Moriarity. “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do that. Those first two holes are going to grab you. We just couldn’t stay out of trouble early on and that really put us behind.”
Rounding out the local flavor is first-year eligible and first-year IHSAA state participant Lakeland Christian Academy, which shot a 396 to finish ahead of three teams at Warsaw. Ross Wallace led the Cougars with an 88, with Chris Maron at 100, Cam Hathaway at 101 and Joel Haines at 107.
Warsaw, Triton and Columbia City will clean the grass-covered cleats and wipe down the muddy clubs ahead of Thursday’s regional, also held at Stonehenge. It will certainly not be a cakewalk for the No. 10-ranked hosts on its home course, or even for Triton, for that matter. Five other sectionals will join the Warsaw qualifiers, including No. 18 Fort Wayne Carroll, champion of the East Noble Sectional, South Bend Riley Sectional champion Penn and No. 20-ranked Mishawaka Marian, as well as the advancers from the Fort Wayne Canterbury, Peru and Fairfield sectionals. The Canterbury field, which had not posted its scores as of early Friday evening, includes No. 9 Dwenger and perennial powers Homestead and Concordia. Peru plays its sectional Monday.
The Fairfield compliment could make life very difficult, as No. 13 NorthWood has beaten Warsaw in match play four separate times this season. Area powers Fairfield, Northridge, Wawasee and Lakeland all reside in the Fairfield grouping – which tee it up Saturday at Black Squirrel in Goshen – which should make Thursday a complete crapshoot.
“We just have to get off to a better start,” Barkey said of the regional set-up. “I don’t have a lot of concern, to be honest. Not in terms of the field or how we are, but in terms of wow, do we need to do some reworking or retooling? No, we just got off to a bad start and we got back to consistent and that was great to see.”
Warsaw Boys Golf Sectional At Stonehenge (Par 71)
Columbia City 319
Culver Academy 328
Huntington North 338
Tippecanoe Valley 356
Lakeland Christian Academy 396
Culver Community 444
Warsaw – Jon Schram 76, Jonny Hollar 79, Tim Ahlersmeyer 84, Will Petro 80, Evan Cultice 79
Triton – Quentyn Carpenter 72, Ryan Rapp 68, Tanner Shepherd 88, Lucas Shafer 87, Greg Music 95
Whitko – Will Peters 90, Colton LeTourneau 88, Danny Zawlocki 84, Cole Bechtold 88, Cole Findley 110
Tippecanoe Valley – Bryce Zimpleman 81, Tanner Neeley 83, Trevor Neeley 91, Joshua Tucker 106, Ben Shriver 101
Lakeland Christian Academy – Ross Wallace 88, Joel Haines 107, Zarek Finley 114, Chris Maron 100, Cam Hathaway 101