Area golfers tame Sultan's Run en route to regionalJune 2, 2018
By HENDRIX MAGLEY
JASPER — Sultan’s Run Golf Club has been known to frustrate golfers of all experience levels from intimidating bunkers and water hazards to the tricky greens and fairways. Add in the fact that the course was a little wet after Thursday’s thunderstorm along with off and on rain throughout the week, it can cause frustration to mount up quickly for the golfers who dared to try and tame it in Friday’s boys golf IHSAA Sectional.
However, several teams and individuals were able to conquer the beast of a course to advance to next Thursday’s regional at Champions Pointe Golf Club in Providence — another tough test. The Jasper Wildcats took home the sectional championship trophy with a score of 312 while Heritage Hills finished second with a 336 and Paoli placed third with a 350 to qualify for the regional tournament as a team. Individuals advancing were Tell City’s Spencer Fest (83), Perry Central’s Brennan Tucker (85) and Southridge’s Coby Reller — who defeated Loogootee’s Max Christmas in a one-hole playoff to advance to the regional as both Reller and Christmas finished with scores of 87. Forest Park finished sixth overall with a 390 while the Raiders placed seventh with a 371.
“I just thought we’ve continued to get better everyday, we’ve continued to see improvements from the beginning of the year to now which is exciting,” Jasper head coach Caleb Begle said following the Cats 11th consecutive sectional title and 24th overall. “These guys have been positive with good attitudes and it was nice to see them shoot good scores.”
Jasper’s Evan Wolfe was the match medalist with a score of 75. Wolfe said he used a stretch of nine straight pars on the front nine to help get him rolling right along and then back-to-back birdies on holes No. 13 and No. 14 helped pace him the remainder of the way. Hollinden finished with a 78, Jack Bies finished with a 79, Bryan Hagan shot an 80 and Patrick Harmon finished with a 105 to round up scoring for the Cats.
Wolfe, one of just three seniors on the Cats roster, has been impressed with the maturity he’s shown as he’s gotten older and believes that staying calm and has been of the biggest keys in helping him shoot good scores.
“I’ve definitely gotten my emotions under control when I’m playing now,” Wolfe said. “I don’t get as upset now when I make a mistake, I just tell myself to get over it.”
After shooting in the high 380s as a team in the beginning of the season, the Heritage Hills Patriots have trimmed their score by nearly 50 strokes as the year progressed and the boys grew more confident in their respective strokes.
While the Pats have seen a spike in confidence as they advance to their fifth straight regional appearance as a team, head coach Dillion Gregory still wants to see improvement in several areas entering next week’s regional tournament.
“We’ve just been trying to find some consistency — it’s the same key we’ve had all year,” Gregory said. “We have four guys who can shoot in the high 70s but we just have to have them find a way to be consistent and make good swings on every shot.”
Rylan Cox and Josh Nelson both shot scores of 81 to lead the Pats on Friday evening. Carter Cox shot an 82, Mitch Blasdel fired off a 92 and Carson Leibering shot a 106 to round up scoring for the Patriots. Cox said one of the biggest challenges was overcoming the difficulty of Sultan’s Run in less than ideal settings.
“Today it was pretty wet so basically wherever you flew it off the tee, that’s where it was landing,” Cox said. “That was a big challenge today but you just have to play smart and make smart decisions especially on the back nine with some tricky greens out there.”
While the Southridge golf team finished seventh overall, sophomore Coby Reller was waiting on pins and needles as the final scores were being placed on the leaderboard. While Reller knew the Raiders weren’t going to be one of the three teams advancing to the regional tournament, he knew his score was capable of sending him to Champions Pointe as an individual.
When he saw Loogootee’s Max Christmas also put up an 87, he knew that a playoff would decide his fate. Reller was able to defeat Christmas on hole No. 1 in the sudden death playoff to advance to Providence as the third individual qualifier. Tristan Boerner finished with an 88, Michael Kappner shot a 101, Owen Kinker fired off a 105 and Carson Mundy rifled off a 108 to round up scoring for Southridge. Reller has noticed his play improve by leaps and bounds in his second year of varsity golf and looks to make even more strides in next week’s regional.
“I think I’ve gotten a lot more consistent,” Reller said. “I’m not hitting it out of bounds as much and I’ve just been keeping the ball in play and making more putts while keeping it consistent.”
This season was a big learning curve for the Forest Park golf team. With junior Colin Lane being the only Ranger to have any varsity experience prior to this season, they knew it was an uphill battle.
But Lane, who finished with a team-best 88, was impressed with how much both he and his teammates showed improvement throughout the season. Gavin Edele shot a 95 for Forest Park while Nolan Brames fired a 101, Lukus Rickelman shot a 106 and Keenan Bertges finished with a 113 to round up the Rangers scoring.
“I know that I’ve grown as a player and we’ve grown as a team because we’ve shot a lot better this year,” Lane said. “We’re young — I’m the only player who had any varsity experience before and for us to hit as well as we did was pretty impressive I think.”
“The real theme this year was improvement as well as thinking and understanding,” Ranger head coach Chris Tretter said. “We try to do our best at explaining things to the guys but we can’t be with them every second out there like you can on a basketball court — they still need to make better club choice decisions but they’re getting better at understanding what goes into those decisions.”
For the teams and individuals heading to next week’s regional, another tough task awaits those who try to tackle Champions Pointe Golf Club. But the reward for conquering the golf course in Henryville? A trip to Prairie View Golf Club and the state finals.
“I think the main key is just going down there and having fun and enjoying everything,” Wolfe said. “Hopefully that can help us move on to state.”
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