PLYMOUTH – The beginning of Sam Brita's round at the Plymouth Regional didn't go well: The Bishop Dwenger senior double-bogeyed the 12th hole, his third of the day.
The end of his round at Swan Lake Golf Course on Thursday was a little more memorable: He turned in a scorecard with an even-par 72, beat Drew Dunham of Columbia City (72) and Joe Shaklik (72) of Canterbury in a one-hole playoff for individual medalist honors, and then lifted the regional team trophy with his Saints teammates.
“I was just out there, and I didn't want it to be the last time,” Brita said. “So I just smiled. If it was my last time, I was going to enjoy it.”
Brita and the No. 14 Saints will get one more opportunity to play together at the state finals at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Saints claimed the team title with a score of 298, defending their title from 2019 and winning their fourth regional title in school history. Bishop Dwenger has now qualified for the state tournament as a team in each of the last 10 years.
Bishop Dwenger's Nick Holder shot a 74 to tie for fourth, and Kyle Morello and Charlie Olson each shot a 75.
Columbia City led by five strokes at the turn but was forced to settle for second place with a score of 302. The No. 13 Eagles, still looking for their first regional title in boys golf, qualified for the state finals as a team for the first time since back-to-back visits in 2015 and 2016.
“They worked really hard to get here and persevered,” Columbia City coach Andrew Thompson said. “We didn't take any significant big numbers today, and any time you can avoid that you're in good shape. We played the back side really well – that was our first nine holes. We slipped a little bit on the front, but we built up a little bit of a cushion and the guys kept plugging away.”
Dunham – Columbia City's No. 4 golfer – led the way for the Eagles, but Alex Hedrick shot a 75, Sean Bledsoe shot a 77 and Kameron Hoag a 78.
No. 10 Penn finished third and was the last team to advance to the state finals with a team score of 311.
Some of the area's best teams struggled on the course, which was still wet from this week's heavy rain. Homestead, winner of the Canterbury Sectional, was fourth at 314. Carroll, the state's third-ranked team, had only two golfers (Hunter Melon and Jackson Bradley) card scores better than 80, and Carroll finished fifth with a team score of 316.
No. 11 Warsaw also recorded a team score of 316 but finished behind Carroll in sixth due to the fifth scorer. No. 20 Leo finished with a team score of 318, good for seventh place, and No. 18 Blackhawk Christian was eighth with a team score of 320.
These schools had several favorites for individual medalist honors, but no player from these schools were among the top five finishers to advance to the state finals without a qualifying team.
“This course can be quite difficult, and you can put yourself in a bad position,” said Dunham, who is in his first season playing for Columbia City after moving from Angola. “But coming out here and hitting good shots, hitting the greens, making good putts, that gives us some good motivation going into states next week.”
Shaklik was the top individual to advance without a team. Concordia's Bailey Marquart shot a 75 and will also advance to the state finals as an individual.