CARMEL — Warsaw took a step backward at the second and final round of the IHSAA Boys Golf State Finals Wednesday.
But while the Tigers may have fallen short of a top 10 finish — they added 15 strokes to Tuesday’s opening-round tally to finish in 14th place at the big meet at Prairie View Golf Club — the memories they made in the process should be ones they can treasure for a lifetime.
Warsaw carded a 343 Wednesday to finish with a two-day total of 671, finishing just a stroke behind 13th-place Crown Point, while Penn shaved 10 strokes off its day one total to finish with a 634 in a tie with Floyd Central for seventh place, and Carmel also cut 10 strokes to run away with a repeat state title in Carmel.
“I think, to a man, we’ll be disappointed. There’s not a guy today that would say he played as good today as he did yesterday, and the expectations I think were up. I think they thought having a practice round yesterday with that first time at state kind of stress and maybe nervousness, I think we all thought we’d be a little bit more relaxed and able to play a better round today. And nobody did,” said Warsaw coach Rich Haddad.
“They’ll all be disappointed. Maybe give them a few hours, and we’ll talk about what an honor and an accomplishment it was for us to make state, and hopefully that’s what the lasting memories will be.”
“The experience was amazing to come here,” said the team’s lone senior, Chase Byron. “We’re a very young team, and to be able to kind of be the leader of these guys and share this experience with them, it’s kind of memory-making. I’ll enjoy it, and I’m sure not all the guys enjoyed how we played today, but we’ll definitely cherish this experience for a lifetime.”
Just four strokes outside of the top 10 entering into Wednesday’s round, the Tigers’ expectations for themselves were high at the outset of Wednesday’s round. But significant struggles after the turn — they added six strokes playing on a less challenging front nine at Prairie View — pushed Warsaw back in the team field. Given their solid start Wednesday, Haddad thought fatigue and the continuous stress of back-to-back 18-hole rounds at the high pressure meet may have played roles.
“We started on the back nine again, which they would all consider a tougher nine, and most of them played better on the back nine,” he said. “I think, again, I’ll have to reflect, did they just wear out on that back nine? A little fatigue and kind of the consistent stress of two days maybe got them a little loose on some shots. This is a course that it costs you — you’ve got to keep your misses to a minimum and small, and you can score well here. But if you miss big, you can really add some numbers on the scorecard.”
Byron closed out his career at Warsaw tin a 15-over-par 87 Wednesday, leaving him with a two-day total of 168. Freshman Jack Yeager also went 15 over Wednesday and wound up with a two-day tally of 171, while sophomore Tucker Carlisle carded 89 a second consecutive day to finish at 178, and Zach LaLonde scored 185 over the two rounds at Prairie View.
Freshman number one Cal Hoskins was visibly disappointed with Wednesday’s round after finishing 8 over with an 80, but after Tuesday’s 4-over 76 tally, he ended up in a tie for 31st place at the state tilt with a 156, the best finish by any freshman at the tournament.
“Whether he pressed on the back nine or just kind of got to the point where he was frustrated that he wasn’t scoring as good as well, and then you end up making mistakes and it ends up costing you. But, the only freshman playing number one for any team in state was a huge accomplishment. He’s had a really good year,” said Haddad.
Warsaw thus closes the year on Indiana high school golf’s biggest stage, and the future looks awfully bright for the Tigers. Byron is the team’s lone grad, and the rest of this year’s crew is expected back next spring to build on a season that saw Warsaw earn Northern Lakes Conference co-championship honors as well as earning top three finishes at both sectional and regional.
“What I’m really looking forward to for us with just one senior, there’ll be some guys coming back that have good memories. We’ll talk about it. There were some things maybe we can improve on as far as the flow, logistics, to just help best prepare them,” Haddad reflected.
“Being here and experiencing it for the first time, for the first time as a team for me as a coach, I’m going to learn a lot from it as well, and hopefully, we’ll come back better than ever and give these guys an opportunity year after year for the next few years.”