Cats proud with third, so close to firstJune 14, 2012
By JOANNE NORELL
Herald Sports Writer
FRANKLIN — There was no escaping the pull of contradictory emotions.
On the one hand, the Jasper boys golf team reveled in equaling its highest-ever finish at the state finals at The Legends of Indiana Golf Club on Wednesday. On the other, the numerical reality of just how close the Wildcats came to a state championship provided its fair share of sting.
Eighth-ranked Jasper claimed the third-place medal in the field of 21, returning a two-day score of 615. Third-ranked Evansville Harrison (611) claimed the crown, while two-time defending champion and No. 2 Indianapolis Brebeuf (314) edged the Cats for the runner-up slot. Top-ranked Columbus North (618), No. 5 Floyd Central (621), No. 7 Warsaw (625), No. 19 Indianapolis Cathedral (625), No. 16 Carmel (626), Penn (633) and Fort Wayne Dwenger (639) rounded out the top 10.
“We had a great shot of winning this thing and the key is, we could have won it and it’s a great feeling,” Wildcat coach Steve Milligan said of the third-place finish that matched the 1995 squad for the top finish at the state finals by a Jasper team. “You’re always going to be disappointed because here’s the goal and they were so close, but they’re going to look back and say, ‘Hey, we played great.’”
Four shots. While the Cats reflected on the successes of their season — second Jasper squad to claim a regional title, first under Milligan to advance to Day 2 of the finals — they couldn’t help but let their minds wander to the four strokes that separated them from the first state title in program history. Four shots was a margin junior Will Seger called indescribably small.
“You think back on your round and you can think of four shots in just the past nine holes, better yet as a team,” Seger said. “But I wouldn’t have wanted to lose by 20 shots just because we were so close. Evansville Harrison, they’re a great team that won this year and we’ve beat them probably three or four times this year. We’re just as good, in my opinion.”
Senior Michael Bies was of the same opinion, adding, “I don’t know if I’m happy with third or not.”
“It meant a lot (getting here),” Bies said, “but our ultimate goal was to win and we knew we could have.”
Jasper rallied from what it considered a poor opening round to post the second-best score of the day Wednesday. The Cats entered the final round with a 311 and in a seventh-place tie with Harrison. The Warriors shot a blistering 300 in round two and boasted individual champion Sean Stone (140); Jasper fired a 304 Wednesday.
Seger, who led Jasper with a two-day score of 149 and fired a 71 Wednesday to trim seven strokes off his Tuesday score, said it was a tale of two days for the Cats as they seemed to swap roles in their lineup. Seger, the Cats’ No. 1 golfer, credited the high-level play of Nos. 4 and 5 Michael Bies and Cam Weyer in the first round for carrying Jasper into the finals, while noting himself, Ian Weyer and Dru Hein played much more efficiently in the decisive round.
Hein carded a 154 with a 75 in the second round, and Ian Weyer turned around Tuesday’s 84 with a 76 on Day 2 for a total of 160. Bies registered a 158 and Cam Weyer came in at 161. Seger finished in a tie for 11th place overall and was named to the 16-member all-state first team. His all-state selection was just the third in school history, and two of those belong to him.
Ian Weyer could hardly find anything to complain about and focused more on the positives of the day than the what-ifs. Simply launching a comeback from seventh place was enough to put Weyer in a good mood.
“It just feels great,” said Weyer, a senior. “I’m just really happy right now. ... Everybody, especially me and Will, we turned our games around to kind of help out the team.
“I’m very proud. We represented our school well up here and just being one of the leaders of the team feels really great.”
Heritage Hills senior Travis Waninger, who advanced with a 75 in Tuesday’s round, finished tied for 14th individually with a 152. Patriot coach Marc Schum praised Waninger’s fight Wednesday, saying his 77 could have ballooned without a half-dozen great bunker shots.
“Today was definitely a lot tougher ball-striking,” Waninger said. “The putter is what helped me today. I could have blew up and shot 85 in an instant but I held it in there at 77, so I’m really happy.
“I’m just happy that I kept it together and put together a solid day.”
Schum also expressed how impressed he’s been with Waninger, who began competitive golf only as a sophomore. Now, Waninger is forgoing his acceptance to Purdue’s engineering program to drum up interest from college golf programs.
“He’s one of the best players we have and some college coach is going to find out there’s a diamond in the rough down here in southern Indiana,” Schum said. “I really believe he has the ability and the mindset to be a tremendous player yet. Sometimes kids go unnoticed but he’s going to make somebody a great player.”
If anything, Jasper’s finish only raised the bar for future versions of the Cats, as the members of the current squad all seemed to agree on the importance of each milestone they met this year. Milligan credited his seniors, Ian Weyer and Bies, for providing an example of the hard work and motivation, and admitted to pulling down his sunglasses to mask teary eyes as each finished up on No. 18. Seger referred to their contributions as “irreplaceable.”
Still, Milligan knew that with how close the Cats came, he wouldn’t be surprised to see his returning group back on a golf course today.
“The stepping stones they’ve set this year have been unbelievable,” Milligan said. “They had an unbelievable season.”
Contact Joanne Norell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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