By Mike Deak
WARSAW – It was go low or go home Friday morning at Rozella Ford Golf Club. In a sectional where over a dozen golfers scored in the 70s, it was Warsaw that had the best of the bunch with all four of its scorers in range to shoot a 296 and win the team title at the Warsaw Boys Golf Sectional.
The tourney title wasn’t a runaway for the Tigers, though, as Columbia City, paired with the Tigers along with Culver Academy, were right on Warsaw’s heels with a 301 team total. The Academy shot 329, but were fourth place and one spot behind Triton, who quietly played the early round and finished third at 318 to advance as the third regional team.
Three of Warsaw’s top four scores were in the top five, led by medalist Cal Hoskins’ even-par round of 70. Hoskins, who hasn’t even been the team’s medalist in recent tournaments, was sharp in his play throughout Friday . “Cal has been beaten by teammates in the past two tournaments,” offered Warsaw head coach Jack Carpenter. “(Ben) Brander beat him with a 73 at Swan Lake last weekend and at Tippy Lake, we had two teammates shoot 74 that were better than his round. So Cal has a lot of competition, but that seems to drive him. But you can always count on him, he won’t have that blow up score, he’s always around 72 to 75.”
Jack Yeager posted a round of 74 and Aidan Bowell, who hadn’t been a consistent cog in Warsaw’s varsity lineup of late, came through with a 75. Yeager’s round included a spectacular eagle on the ninth, holing out from well below the hill to which the green is situated just behind the clubhouse.
Warsaw’s Tucker Carlile was the fourth score at 77, which tied for ninth overall. Brander posted an 84 as an ‘off day’ per Carpenter.
Carpenter, the longtime head coach for Triton, won his first title with the Tigers after being named the head coach in the fall. His battles as a Trojan with the Tigers in recent years have become the stuff of legend. Just this time the roles were reversed.
“Let’s be honest, I took over a program that was loaded with talent, so this isn’t anything special that I did,” joked Carpenter. “Not only are these kids good golfers, but they are good kids. They are very respectful and very polite. They have a work ethic like none other. Our biggest decisions are us being eight or nine deep, and I struggle to get a lineup that’s fair because we have guys like Lewis Turley shoot a 79 and score for us last week. Seth Hildebrand played in the NLC. Jaxson Gould has been very good this season. It’s just fitting all the pieces together at the right time. But it’s a good problem to have, obviously.”
Columbia City also had all four of its scorers in the 70s, led by No. 5 Kameron Hoag’s 73, which was third-best in the meet. Andrew Hedrick finished at 75, Sean Bledsoe at 76 and Alex Hedrick at 77.
Triton, which was grouped with Plymouth and Wawasee, quietly went about its business on a Rozella course it plays regularly. Cole McKinney looked like a seasoned member, shooting a 72 to take runner-up honors in the individual category. McKinney just played even keel per his head coach, Blake Schori, and took what the course gave him.
“Cole puts so much pressure on himself and he works at the game all the time,” Schori said of McKinney. “He’s one of those kids who you have to pull off the course because he’ll stay out all night playing. Today, he was three-under at one point and kept grinding to get that 72. He played a great round today.”
John Gardner’s 78 became a big score for the Trojans, as the 83 from Gavin Butler and 85 from Bruce Johnson sat well for the early scores on the leaderboards. But with Culver Academy’s pedigree lurking, Schori wasn’t entirely comfortable his team’s position would hold up.
“We haven’t had a round yet where all four guys clicked, but we put up a solid score today when we needed it,” Schori said. “Our three-man doesn’t play his usual round, but our four and five pick him up. It think it was nice to be able to get out early and kind of set the pace and put up the scores to let the teams behind us know what we’re shooting and force them to respond, rather than the other way around.”
The Academy had its best scores turn in as 79 from Rory Sullivan and 81 from Jordan Larese, the Eagles showing a great deal of pressured body language as they wrapped up their final few holes. Arthur Davidson was one of them, the next score at 84 and well off his potential. Owen Hart had an 85 as its fourth score.
Dropping to the next tier was Wawasee, which was fifth at 347, four better than Northern Lakes Conference counterpart Plymouth at 351, and Three Rivers Conference foe Northfield at 360. Huntington North (361), Whitko (363), Manchester (379), Tippecanoe Valley (399) and Culver (453) wrapped up the team scoring.
For the Warriors, Jay Finlinson led the way with an 82, easily winning his trio with Breylon Wareham of Triton (92) and Eli Schramm of Plymouth (95). Caleb Clevenger and Brandon Tayagua both shot 87 in their final rounds of the season, and Aiden Jonsson concluded his career at 91.
“We’re just glad to be out here playing after not playing at all last year,” said Wawasee head coach Steve Coverstone. “Get these kids some experience and come back next year better than ever. We lost some seniors that lost their final season, but these guys we have now have talent. We just need to play more, see some teams like these in tournament settings.”
For the Vikings, Greg Miller had a tough final round to his season, shooting 86 after hovering in the high 70s, low 80s for much of the competition season. Mason Purvis was next at 97, followed by Grady McGriff at 105 and Branson McBrier at 111.
Whitko had Kylar Bryant shoot 84 and Dale Reiff post 86 as its top two scores for the tournament. Jon Strayer had a 96 and Blake Schroeder a 97 to wrap up the Wildcat totals.
The Academy’s Sullivan, Manchester’s Owen Kruschwitz (76) and Plymouth’s Bennett Christy (77) will carry on as individuals to the Plymouth Regional next Thursday at Swan Lake Golf Course, joining Warsaw, Columbia City and Triton as well as teams and individuals from five area sectionals.