Wildcats tame Sultan's Run, claim 12th straight title

Photos by Traci Westcott/The Herald
Jasper's Landon Kissel, center, warms up with Jack Bies, left, and Avery Hollinden during Friday's golf sectional at Sultan's Run Golf Club in Jasper. The Jasper trio helped pace the Wildcats to their 12th straight sectional championship and 25th overall in school history. Bies was the individual match medalist while Hollinden and Kissel also placed in the top five scores on the day. For more photos from the sectional meet, click here.


JASPER — It was a full day of action as several of the area golf teams assembled at Sultan’s Run to duke it out for sectional supremacy. The golfers took to the course and laid down their boldest drives, sharp chip shots, and precision putting as they navigated the traps to make their march towards the 18 greens carved throughout the course. But only one team could make it to the top of the heap as the Jasper Wildcats scored a 325 to win their 12th straight sectional championship. It’s the program’s 25th overall title.

“I was pleased with how everybody played,” said Jasper head coach Caleb Begle. “It was a lot of fun to just go out there, do your best and compete. Focus on every shot in front of them, that’s what our goal was. We knew we had some tough competition and we would have to play well to win. We’re happy to be the sectional champs.”

Rounding out the top three teams are Heritage Hills and Paoli which posted team scores of 338 and 347 respectively to advance to the regional at Champions Pointe Golf Club. As for the rest of the field: Forest Park finished fourth, an improvement of two places from last season’s sectional match, with 356. Tell City came in fifth with 357, Loogootee finished sixth with 377, Southridge took seventh with 387 and Perry Central finished eighth with 390.

Senior Jack Bies and junior Avery Hollinden also came away with individual medals for the Wildcats, posting the first and third lowest single scores respectively during Friday’s match. Bies shot a 74 while Hollinden scored a 79. Paoli’s Dawson Long took second place overall with a 76.

Bies, who will be moving into the college golf ranks at Northern Kentucky University, credited Begle helping him develop an even-keeled mental approach to golf that allows him to move past bad shots focus up to hit the next one. He reminds himself that golf is only a game, and a frustrating moment doesn’t have to carry over into the rest of his game if he doesn’t allow it.

“This whole season he’s taught me to get over any bad shot,” said “He’s always told me to smile because it makes things easier, and it does. The biggest thing is to realize that there’s way worse things in life than any bad in golf, it’s just a game.”

Hollinden echoed Bies’s sentiments in terms of clearing the slate in his mind so he didn’t burden himself with the thought of poor shots while he moved through the course. He also said that the team rallied around their senior leader and wanted to do everything they could to help Bies finish out his last year at Jasper with another sectional title.

“I just decided to forget about all the scores I shoot and have fun with my friends,” he said. “Whenever we first started out he struggled mentally and focusing on just the game. We just decided to finish it off for Jack because he’s a senior and to all have fun doing it.”

Heritage Hills advanced to the regional by scoring a 338. They were paced by Ethan Kane who shot an 80, good for the fourth best score among all golfers at Friday's sectional.

Josh Nelson (83), Carter Cox (85), Rylan Cox (90) and Mitch Blasdel (104) rounded out the scoring for Heritage Hills on Friday.

Heritage Hills' Josh Nelson checks his putt line during Friday's golf sectional at Sultan's Run Golf Club in Jasper. The Patriots finished second overall with a score of 338 to advance to next week's regional. For more photos from the sectional meet, click here.

For the Rangers this season was a strange combination of new and old that provided a unique challenge for coach Chris Tretter. On one hand he was returning all of his starting varsity lineup from last season and was working on teaching them to make that next step as a golf group. On the other hand Tretter had eight new kids join the team this year, so he had to balance his attention to make sure none of them were left behind as they learned the game. He gave a lot credit to the seniors for stepping up in their leadership roles and using their trial-by-fire experience to help the new golfers pick up their clubs.

“We knew we could count on them to provide good leadership while we weren’t around,” said Tretter. “They learned on the fly last year and that was beneficial to us this year bringing all of those new guys to the fold. It was a feeling out process, we figured it out as we went along.”

Senior Colin Lane shot an 82 to not only lead the Rangers, but also to send himself to the regional round as an individual. He said the fairways were kind to him for the most part and he almost shot his first hole-in-one on the 16th hole before it was over. But he also felt that he had a bit of extra help from above to help guide his clubs as he noticed a butterfly that seemed to be following him around the 15th hole.

“I know a butterfly means it’s someone from Heaven,” he said as the emotions of the moment flooded over him. “That butterfly followed me from hole 15 tee box to the 18th green. And that explains itself.”

As for the Southridge Raiders, their coach Brock Matthews said Friday wasn’t their best day on the course, but it served as a microcosm for their season; some guys shot well while others struggled to put it all together.

“We had higher expectations going in,” he said. “All year long we’ve had guys that have played well at times, but we’ve not been able to get them playing together at the same time. That was the theme of the day.”

“It wasn’t our best, we definitely could have played better,” said senior Michael Kappner, who led the Raiders with an 87. “We had our moments throughout the season, it just wasn’t our day. We’re definitely capable of doing better, and in the next few years I think Southridge will be really good.”

Forest Park's Colin Lane waits to putt during Friday's golf sectional at Sultan's Run Golf Club in Jasper. Lane advanced as an individual to next week's regional with a score of 82. He gave credit to a special guest that helped him advance — a butterfly that followed him around from the 15th hole to the 18th hole. For more photos from the sectional meet, click here.

Matthews hopes that this last match inspires the rest of the team to use the offseason to work on their golf game and get in as many shots as possible. Their swings aren’t going to magically get better with their golf bags collecting dust between spring seasons.

“I hope they realize the hard work that it takes to improve,” he said. “If you go from the end of the season to the beginning of next season without playing you’re not going to improve. It takes a lot of hard work in the offseason months to take that next step forward.”

As for those that are moving forward onto Champion’s Pointe, they’re set to take what they achieved in sectional and rework it for the regional round of play. As always the short game is in the forefront of their mechanical focus, but they also put much stock the power that comes with a positive attitude.

“We have to take positives from this in each part of our games,” said Bies. “The biggest thing would be attitude. We didn’t play our best today, so knowing we can keep improving is a positive. We just need to be positive going into next week and work on the short game for sure.”

“We’re going to be working on putting, figuring out the speed of those greens,” said Lane. “Hitting my lines on puts and making sure I get up and down if I miss.”

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