When Bishop Dwenger tees off on the first hole of Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel today for the first of two rounds at the IHSAA Boys Golf State Championships, it won't have to wonder how some of the toughest competition in the state is playing.
The Saints, who won the Plymouth regional with a 305 on Thursday, were paired with defending state champion Carmel, which returns four of the five golfers from last year. The Saints and Greyhounds will also be playing with Yorktown, teeing off at 9:12 a.m.
“It should be exciting to play with the No. 1 team in the state,” Dwenger coach Dave Scudder said of Carmel, which won the Lake Central regional by 29 strokes. “It'll be nice to watch those kids play, plus I think it'll be a great incentive to see how our kids stack up with their team.”
Dwenger has reached the state finals every season since 2012.
“I think it's a big advantage. They'll be nervous, but they won't be nervous as long, I don't think,” Scudder said. “But golf is such a funny game, you're good one day or you're not good one day.”
Scudder said his two seniors, Danny Kimes and Jonny Filler, medalist at the Plymouth regional with an even-par 72 and a playoff victory, are well-suited for the 6,991-yard Prairie View course.
“This is a long course, and they hit the ball pretty far,” Scudder said. “So I think they're going to have a bigger advantage than our two younger kids (Joseph Brita and Nick Holder), who are sophomores. They don't hit the ball as far, but no matter how far you hit it, you've got to putt well, so hopefully their strength in putting will offset the fact that they don't hit it very far.”
Junior Corey Ryan will be the fifth Saint.
Unlike Dwenger, which has plenty of state finals experiences, all five Warsaw golfers will be at state for the first time. The Tigers, who had not qualified for the finals since 2013, advanced by placing third in the Plymouth regional.
“I think the goal this week will be to really be competitive,” Warsaw coach Rich Haddad said. “Some of the schools that are top five or so in the state just have such a deep team, and also experienced teams. We have two freshmen that are playing, a sophomore, a junior and a senior. We're really young, so my message is to really enjoy the experience. They've earned the opportunity to be there. Be free to play a great round of golf for two days.”
The Tigers are led by freshman Cal Hoskins and senior captain Chase Byron.
“(Hoskins) has played a lot of tournaments in his junior (golf) experience so far, so Cal is doing a great job for us at No. 1 here,” Haddad said. “(Byron), he's a four-time varsity letter winner, so he has experience. Not at state, but four years of varsity experience. Probably not as consistent a senior year as he would have liked, but he's come on in the last few weeks.”
Haddad identified junior Zach LaLonde as the team's longest hitter, while sophomore Tucker Carlile has a strong short game that has helped his scoring. Freshman Jack Yeager will fill the fifth varsity spot. Warsaw will tee off on No. 10 at 8:18 a.m.
Bailey Clark, a senior from DeKalb who finished third as an individual at the Plymouth regional, will begin his first round on the 10th tee at 8 a.m., and Columbia City freshman Alex Hedrick starts on No. 10 at 10:15 a.m. Homestead junior Adam DeLong, who lost to Filler in the regional playoff, will tee off on the 1st hole at 8:18. It is his first time at the state finals.
“There's a lot more fanfare going on, there's a lot of people there,” Homestead coach Mickey Mazock said of the state tournament. “Adam's kind of a different kind of a golfer. If you tell him there's something he's playing for, a pressure-packed situation, that's when he plays his best.”
Local teams: Bishop Dwenger, Warsaw
Individual qualifiers: Bailey Clark (DeKalb), Adam DeLong (Homestead), Alex Hedrick (Columbia City)
When: Today-Wednesday, tee times start at 8 a.m.
Where: Prairie View Golf Club, Carmel
Tickets: $12 per person, entry good for both days
Streaming: Second round, IHSAAtv.org, noon; live scoring available on BirdieFire