BNL qualifies for state
finals with sizzling 298
to finish 3rd in regional
By Justin Sokeland
HENRYVILLE – They charged, with resolve and determination, with a goal in mind and purpose in their hearts. Bedford North Lawrence was not going to fall short again, not on this golf course, not on this day.
After a boisterous first nine holes, after getting tossed to and fro by the winds of Fate and the unsettled team history at Champions Pointe, the Stars stormed back with a memorable second half that carried them to the ultimate destination of the IHSAA state finals.
No.15 BNL qualified for the two rounds of the state championship with a sizzling team score of 298 during the regional on Thursday afternoon. The Stars finished third behind No.1 Center Grove (292) and No.4 Bloomington South (295), earning the final invitation to Prairie View on June 14-15.
The Stars ended a long slump. They’ve been to the state finals 14 times now, but not since 2009. And not since the IHSAA expanded the regional fields to 18 teams and trimmed the number of regionals across the state to five. BNL used to take a deep tournament run for granted. The Stars are back where they used to belong.
“It feels really good,” BNL coach Mike Wright said. “It’s a huge boost. With the format change, with 18 teams, it’s a much bigger deal to beat this field.”
BNL had heroes this day, one in particular as it carded its best team score of the season. Freshman Ethan Stanley fired a career-best 71 (with three birdies, all on the second nine holes) and sophomore Daylen Tidd had 4 birdies en route to a 74. But without senior Zak Cummings, who was a steely-eyed missile man, they would have been advancing as individuals.
Cummings shouldered the team. He made the turn (BNL started on the tougher back nine) with a stumbling 41. After a quick chat with Wright, who told him exactly where everyone stood and what was required, he went to work. Cummings, who often battles his own putter, carded three birdies in a four-hole span and turned what could have been his forgettable final round into an unforgettable one (75).
“I got off to a terrible start and it was very frustrating,” said Cummings, who got rewarded with an ice water bath from his teammates. “I knew we would have to post a good score, and Coach was telling me what everyone was shooting. I like that. A lot of people take it as pressure, but I like it.
“I knew it would depend on me, so I decided to play well. My goal was to shoot even and get nine pars. That’s all I wanted.”
Cummings, who birdied holes 3, 4 and 6, wasn’t alone. Stanley chipped in for birdie on the par-3 fourth hole. Tidd, who should kiss his putter (or at least give it an appreciative hug), had six one-putts on the second nine.
Stanley also pointed to his putter as the key weapon. “My short game and putting was really good,” he said. “That saved me. I left a couple out there, but I made a couple that were key.”
None more key than the perfect chip.
“I was just trying to bump it into the hill, and it did exactly what I wanted it to do,” Stanley said with that smile that indicates he meant to do it but also felt fortunate when the ball disappeared.
“Grind or die has been our motto,” Wright said. “That’s what we did today.”
BNL did its homework, playing the course three times (including twice earlier this week) and approached Champions – where other BNL teams failed in spectacular fashion with high-score mistakes amidst all the high heather grass and penal areas – with a game plan.
“This group of kids bought into being disciplined, knowing where the misses are,” Wright said. “They’re an intelligent group. Sometimes execution doesn’t always occur, but they stay with it and have a game plan. Good things tend to happen.”
Koby Robb, who also had his struggles during the first nine holes, capped BNL’s scoring with a 78 while Blake Martin had an 80.
Center Grove was paced by Sam Jean (71) and Noah Gillard (72), while South’s Quinn Pizzo posted a 71.
Perry Meridian’s Nick Osterberg was the medalist with a 2-under 70, and he advanced as an individual. The top five who were not members of advancing teams also earned tickets to the state finals, and that included Greensburg’s Keegan McCullough (71), Jasper’s Josh Krempp (71), New Albany’s Addison Greenwell (73) and Floyd Central’s Dylan Zink (74, and he defeated Heritage Hills’ Corey Teaford in a playoff for the final position).
BNL will play both rounds in the state finals, which no longer includes a first-day cut.
Thursday at Champions Pointe
Team scores: Center Grove 292, Bloomington South 295, Bedford NL 298, Perry Meridian 306, Jasper 313, New Albany 313, Floyd Central 316, Franklin 319, Columbus North 320, Columbus East 327, Madison 327, Heritage Hills 330, Providence 331, Greensburg 334, Paoli 346, Jennings County 361, Brown County 386, Scottsburg 391
Bedford NL: Zak Cummings 75, Ethan Stanley 71, Daylen Tidd 74, Blake Martin 80, Koby Robb 78
Bloomington South: Joe Weiler 74, Tanner Shapiro 77, Nick Burris 74, Quinn Pizzo 71, Brett Knorr 76
Brown County: Aubrey Seaman 86, Parker VanNess 83, Jake Dixon 105, Gavin Brown 112, Wesley Weigal 116
Center Grove: Noah Gillard 72, Ethan Shepherd 75, Sam Jean 71, Tyler Rankel 74, Logan Anderson 76
Columbus East: Austin Proffitt 77, Derek Alexander 93, Thomas Ruch 81, Mark Mayhew 91, Nathan Cesarski 78
Columbus North: Bryce Turner 76, Jared Imlay 83, Spencer Fairbanks 81, Matt Vorndran 82, Drew Smith 81
Floyd Central: David Shepard 77, Dylan Zink 74, Jack Lilly 80, Adam Rutledge 85, Harrison Eades 86
Franklin: Javan Johnson 75, Kodi Duncan 90, Blake Andrews 80, Matt Jordan 79, Emerson Downing 85
Greensburg: Keegan McCullough 71, Reid Domingo 83, Trevor Stapp 86, Kyle Sellers 94, Anthony Treash 97
Heritage Hills: Corey Teaford 74, Alec Meinier 84, Alex Gordon 84, Dakota Deller 88, Jacob Winkler 97
Jasper: Josh Krempp 71, Carson Pierce 77, Jack Bies 82, Bryan Hagen 87, Matt Lottes 83
Jennings County: Jake Simmons 88, Ian Donnell 85, Garrett Day 99, Austin Roscooe 89, John Kelley 100
Madison: Austin Mahoney 76, Landon Conner 78, Drew Barron 88, Blake Kiefer 91, Case Kiefer 85
New Albany: Addison Greenwell 73, Nolan Keeler 80, Joey Steinert 92, Ethan Hunter 82, Cameron Walters 78
Paoli: Kyle Street 79, Jordan Clark 93, Dawson Long 78, Hunter Hamilton 96, Connor Henderson 97
Perry Meridian: Nick Osterburg 70, Brad Sprinkle 76, Landon Price 77, Spencer Huston 83, Corey Miller 83
Providence: Kevin Crone 76, Max Leist 80, Kyle Oelker 89, Shawn Fitzpatrick 87, Trey Beatty 88
Scottsburg: Carter Bowles 114, Charles Robinson 92, Jordan Shuler 100, Kameron Hollan 85, Eli Hunefeld 132
Adam Baker (Bl. North) 94; Luke Davidson (Henryville) 84; Brady Marshall (Seymour) 78, Drew Fleming (Roncalli) 101; Lucas Williams (Jac-Cen-Del) 83; Jay Williams (Jeffersonville) 86; Brayden Stegemiller (Roncalli) 90; Drew Dearing (Southridge) 92; Chase Cawthorne (Southport) 80; Joey Wiseman (Corydon) 80, Zach James (Perry Central) 103; Seth Berry (Brownstown) 92; Dayne Lecher (North Decatur) 79; Henry Hentrup (South Central) 84; Aaron Walker (Rising Sun) 87; Brady Murray (Rising Sun) 84; Ross Harmeyer (Batesville) 93; Carson Stailey (Springs Valley) 87