No.15 BNL among top
contenders in loaded
regional at Champions
By Justin Sokeland
Golf is the most unpredictable, taut, seismic, volcanic sport. One swing, one moment, the flap of a butterfly’s wings that leads to a gust of wind, can set off a chain reaction to change the course of the expected.
Forecasting the IHSAA regional at Champions Pointe is a losing proposition. Too many variables, too many possible eruptions can happen during the course of 18 pressure-packed holes. With five ranked teams among the 18 in the field, with only three qualifying spots for the state finals available, anything is possible.
But here are two sure things: Center Grove will win, and a team score of 303 will be good enough to earn a trip to the IHSAA state championships at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel on June 14-15.
Now the first part of those bold prognostications was pretty easy. Center Grove, ranked No.1 in the final state poll, has been posting sensational scores. The Trojans totaled 284 (4-under as a team) while winning the Providence Invitational on this course on May 28.
The second part is pure conjecture. That’s the score No.15 Bedford North Lawrence posted while finishing third in that event (which featured many of the same teams that will convene on Thursday in the second stage of the state tournament series). BNL coach Mike Wright would take that score again and wait in the clubhouse. Although he would certainly do some squirming.
In the six previous years Champions Pointe has hosted the regional, 303 was good enough to place among the top three every time but one (2013). Unfortunately, choosing a target score is not an option. The Stars, chasing their first trip to the final stage since 2009, will have to earn it.
BNL should certainly be among the contenders. The 18-team field, featuring qualifiers from six sectionals, will include No.4 Bloomington South, No.12 Perry Meridian, No.16 Columbus North and sectional champions Madison (which shot 298 in its own sectional) and Columbus East (paced by medalist Austin Proffitt with a 4-under 67). Any of those would be worthy.
“The reality of getting out is sometimes mind boggling,” BNL coach Mike Wright said. “This year is no different. The top teams are really good.”
The Stars have an extra club in the bag – confidence. They have that 303 score, they have that 148 they fired on the front nine during the sectional at Indiana University, as a foundation.
“We know we can score here,” Wright said during Monday’s practice round. “All five guys can. It’s nice to have five guys that know they can shoot in the 70s. If we can eliminate mistakes we have a good shot.”
Now that’s the golf secret in a nutshell. Eliminate mistakes. On this course, with its high heather grass and close boundaries, with possible disaster lurking on almost every hole, that’s the key. Keep the ball in the designated playing area, on the short grass. Makes it so much simpler.
“There is the saying that you drive for show and putt for dough, but at Champions Pointe you have to drive the ball well, almost as well as you putt,” BNL senior Zak Cummings said. “The rough is thick, and if you don’t hit the fairway, you’re done.”
Cummings and the Stars have been unpredictable from another aspect. Any of the five (including Daylen Todd, Ethan Stanley, Blake Martin and Koby Robb) could be the low scorer during any given round. They have been waiting for the day when they click together. Perhaps that day is approaching.
“At the beginning of the season, we talked about getting to the state,” Wright said. “You could just see the five guys improve, and get better, and their dedication has been unlike anything I’ve seen in a long time. It would be great for this group to get there.
“I don’t want to say deserving, because I think that’s the most over-used word in sports. But they have worked hard enough to earn the spot, if we’re fortunate enough. It depends on a couple of factors, some that we’re not in control of.”
Action will begin at 8 a.m. But BNL’s work has already started. The Stars will attack the course with strategy and focus.
“We’ll have a plan that the six of us will talk about,” Wright said. “This is probably the most disciplined group I’ve had. They will do what is best to put themselves in position.”
Center Grove is the defending regional champion.
Thursday at Champions Pointe
No.4 Bloomington South, No.15 BNL, Brown County, Columbus East, No.16 Columbus North, Greensburg, Madison, Scottsburg, Jennings County, Jasper, Heritage Hills, Paoli, Providence, New Albany, Floyd Central, No.1 Center Grove, No.12 Perry Meridian, Franklin
Top three teams, and top three individuals who are not members of qualifying teams, will advance to the state finals on June 14-15 at Prairie View Golf Club