WINONA LAKE – For someone who rarely wears his emotions on his sleeve, Jon Schram peeled back the orange on Thursday.
The senior No. 1 for Warsaw was ice cold on the 18th green with the chips stacked against him. Facing a 10-foot putt just to achieve eagle, a make would give the Tigers a regional championship. A miss, second place to a very interested Triton team. Lining up the putt, the tangerine-clad Schram dropped the putt, not only attaining medalist honors with a 69, but giving Warsaw a 305 score, which by a fifth-man score, trumped the 305 posted by Triton.
Watch Schram’s thoughts on the huge moment here.
Schram was his usual consistent self, bogeying just two holes and scoring a pair of birdies on the front side before hammering 18 for one of only two eagles of the tournament. Northridge’s Will Erekson had the other, needing just three shots to complete the par-five 15th.
But despite the heroics from Schram, Warsaw needed help to defeat a very motivated and determined Trojan bunch. That help came from Evan Cultice, playing from the five position and posting an historic round. Cultice needed just 23 putt attempts on his round and fired a sparkling 75. The putt total matched the low school mark for 18 holes set by Jake Brodhead, first achieving the feat during the 2005 Northern Lakes Conference tournament.
“He has that ability,” Barkey said of Cultice. “It’s just finding that clicking, floodgate belief, whatever you want to call it. To be able to put up some really great rounds the last three weeks is outstanding. And he has played great the last month. We are very excited.”
Warsaw added an 81 from Jonny Hollar and 80 from Tim Ahlersmeyer in slightly below-average scores from the pair on their home course. The 82 from Will Petro became the X-factor score in the matter, as his round bested the fifth-score 93 from Greg Music of Triton, giving the tiebreaker, and an eighth regional crown to the Tigers, a third in four years.
“This is the coolest thing I have seen, cooler than a lot of the other stuff, hands down in terms of raw emotion, that was just awesome,” Warsaw head coach Ben Barkey said of the Schram moment.
Triton, which lost to Warsaw on a tiebreaker in the 2012 sectional, improved 10 strokes from its sectional round last Friday, and did so with improvements from its three and four golfers. Tanner Shepherd shaved seven strokes off for an 81 and Lucas Shafer pulled four strokes to score 83 Thursday.
The Trojans were again led by the prowess of its first two, with Quentyn Carpenter Ryan Rapp nearing the top of the leaderboard. Carpenter fired a one-under 70 and Rapp was one stroke behind at 71 after shooting 68 at the sectional in his medalist moment last Friday. Carpenter had four birdies to counteract his three bogeys while Rapp had four bogeys and birdies to shoot even for the day.
Triton head coach Jack Carpenter, after a very frustrating sectional finish that had the Trojans two strokes from winning the tourney, was again bittersweet after Thursday’s developments.
“Just once I would like the stars to align,” shrugged Carpenter, who moments before shared kind words with Schram and uttered similar remarks about just wanting one from the Tigers. “We are so close to Warsaw, I swear, every time. This is the third time in a row that it’s gone down to one shot or a tiebreaker. If you would have told me we would have shot a 305 before the tournament, I would have taken it and not even played. I was looking at somewhere more at 310-312. I’m just very, very proud of the way my kids stepped up.”
The field itself was a star-studded group that had a lot of firepower and experience. Five teams in the regional played in the state finals a year ago, including Fort Wayne Dwenger, which will join Triton and Warsaw in returning to the state finals with its 309. The Saints needed a par putt from Callahan Elzey on 18 to hold off Fort Wayne Carroll, which finished at 310 and in the dreaded fourth-place slot.
Eight teams were within 10 strokes of Dwenger’s advancing line, including area teams Fairfield (313), NorthWood (314), Columbia City (317) and Northridge (319). NorthWood, which had beaten Warsaw in duals and tournament on four different occasions this season, had only Dylan Gessinger’s 73 within contention scores.
Not making it out of the regional, but gaining valuable experience as a freshman was Wawasee’s Jeffrey Moore. His round of 80 was highlighted by great approaches on 13 and 18 but also some moments of regret, including a double bogey on three and seven bogeys in his first taste of the second show.
“I hit a lot of shots long, some over the green, sometimes I didn’t hit the right club, that just happens,” Moore said of his day. “You have to be able to get up and down on this course to be able to shoot under par.
“I didn’t hit into one bunker or into the heather. I was always in the fairway. Most of my drives and second shots were pretty good. I just missed a few putts I needed to hit.”
As for the state-bound locals, the trip to the Legends Golf Club in Franklin is a historic one for Schram and Ahlersmeyer. The pair become just the third and fourth golfers in Warsaw program history to make four state finals, joining 2012 graduates Bennett Hollar and Tyler Ostrom. Triton will return to the finals for the first time since 2010. Both of the team’s missions are understandably similar.
“I’m really happy for my one and two, for them to be able to finish their careers at state just tickles me,” Carpenter said. “Today, I really wish we could have gotten over that Warsaw hump. But to get to state, hey, that’s alright, too. We haven’t been ranked all year, not even honorable mention, and to be one of 15 teams in the state – five regionals feed it – that really says something about us as a 1A school. We truly are one of the best teams in the state.”