You’re in: Pierce state-bound after initial doubtJune 9, 2017
From Herald Staff Reports
After finishing up at Thursday’s boys golf regional at Champions Pointe Golf Club in Henryville, Carson Pierce looked up at the scoreboard and did the math. The Jasper senior realized the Wildcats weren’t moving on to state, and that he was just going to miss qualifying as an individual.
Only the top three golfers from non-qualifying teams advance, Pierce thought, and that meant his round of 73 was fifth-best among those individuals. Except he was wrong. At sectional, the top three individuals advance, but at regional, the top five golfers advance to the state finals. So Pierce was in.
“I was kind of bummed out I never got to experience state,” Pierce said. “Then, once they announced that five got out I was just ecstatic. I’ve wanted this my entire high school career and just seeing it get put all together — all the hard work I’ve put into it the last four years — it’s really nice to see it pay off.”
Pierce’s score led an eighth-place effort for Jasper (318) that included Bryan Hagan’s 79 and an 82 from Matt Lottes, while Jack Bies (84) rounded out the Jasper scoring and Luke Lehane’s 92 was good enough to win a fifth-player tiebreaker with Franklin for eighth place. Heritage Hills (348) finished 14th, while Forest Park (379) ended its season with a 16th-place finish in the 18-team field. Southridge’s Drew Dearing also fired a 76 after qualifying individually for regional.
“They played pretty good on the front side,” Jasper coach Steve Milligan said. “Going on the back side, with the elite teams we were playing against — Center Grove, Columbus North, Bedford North Lawrence — we were step-by-step with them going into the backside. We felt really good.”
After the first nine holes, Milligan said the Wildcats were three shots out of the final qualifying spot, but a couple mistakes on the tough final half at Champions Pointe left Jasper outside the top three. Top-ranked Center Grove (278), No. 11 Columbus North (290) and No. 14 Bedford North Lawrence (301) nabbed the three state finals-qualifying slots.
“I’m just so proud of our senior leadership this year,” Milligan said. “I’m so proud of Carson, Matt and Luke, and like I told them when the match was over, we’re not done this year because Carson is still alive. The season’s not over yet.”
Pierce said he’s looking to finish in the top 10 or 20 golfers at next week’s state finals, which begin Tuesday and conclude Wednesday at Prarie View Golf Club in Carmel. He also said he’s looking forward to a less stressful environment now that he knows he’s reached the ultimate round of the state tourney.
“It’s kind of different playing in state I think, because now there’s nothing to worry about,” Pierce said. “I don’t have to worry about qualifying for the next level. I can just go out there and play my game, and if it goes well it goes well, and if it doesn’t, then so what? At least I made it, you know?”
Thursday was the final round for Heritage Hills’ Alex Gordon, who led the Patriots with a 76 while Dakota Deller (89), Creek Talbott (91), Rylan Cox (92) and Josh Nelson (96) provided backup for the Patriots. Gordon said he realized he was a longshot to advance after starting on the back-nine and struggling early on. Even after birdying the sixth and seventh holes to bring him back to 3-over par, he knew he was going to need to shave another couple strokes off.
“Stuff that just normally doesn’t happen, happened early on,” Gordon said. “I would overall say it was a really good round sprinkled with some bad highlights.”
Walking up toward the last green, Gordon said he knew it was the last hole of his high school career, but he still wanted to accomplish one last thing. He remembered his first hole as a high-schooler — a par-3 in a nine-hole dual match. After knocking his tee shot on the green, he two-putted to par that first hole of his high school career. He wanted to end the same way Thursday.
“After I got a really bad second shot on (hole) 9, I had a really tough up-and-down to par my last hole as a high-schooler,” Gordon said. “I chipped it up and made about a 20-footer for par. I had that going for me, at least.”
A Forest Park lineup consisting solely of seniors experienced the same feeling of finality. Bryce Brosmer led the way with a 91, while Jacob Weisman (95), Zach Wendholt (96), Evan Weyer (97) and Aaron White (98) provided scores in succession for the Rangers.
Forest Park coach Chris Tretter said his team was a little disappointed in the scores, but the coaching staff was pleased with the Rangers shooting better on their second nine holes than the first nine. With a full team of seniors, Tretter acknowledged the difficulty of processing the end of Thursday’s round, which culminated a historic season in which Forest Park qualified for the first regional in program history.
“I’m sure going to miss these guys,” Tretter said. “They’re quality young men, first and foremost, and they’ve been a pleasure to be around and have been coach able the whole way through. I’ve just had a blast with them all four years, and this year was special. I know they’ll all remember it for the rest of their life; I know I will and the assistant coaches will as well.”
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