By Josh Sigler
Wabash High School’s boys golf team may want to send the IHSAA a thank you card.
After spending several years in the Warsaw Sectional at Stonehenge G.C. in Winona Lake, the Apaches were moved to the Peru Sectional this season after the latest realignment. Two of their team members are also members at the current sectional site, Rock Hollow G.C.
Wabash made the most of the opportunity, carding a 330 as a team Monday to claim the program’s first sectional title, topping the next closest squad by a full 10 strokes.
“Our kids are pretty familiar with the course,” Wabash coach Brady McClure said. “The thing we like about Rock Hollow is it’s close to Wabash and is a public course. ... We talked about a week ago and I thought somewhere in the 320s would get us out. I’m speechless. I knew our kids had it in them, but I also knew it would have to be a day where all four or even five would have to play well on the same day. That’s the hardest thing to do as a golf coach, to get all the kids to play well on the same day.”
Western finished as the sectional runner-up with 340 strokes. A team without seniors, coach Steve Hoppes was hoping for the Panthers’ first boys golf sectional title, but wasn’t disappointed to move on nonetheless.
“We’re moving on, and I’ll tell you, Wabash came out of nowhere,” Hoppes said. “They’re new to this sectional and they’re obviously a lot better than we thought. Give them credit. We wanted to shoot what we shot here earlier [in the season] which was a 332. We thought a 332 would easily get us out. A 332 still wouldn’t have won it for us. That 330 [from Wabash] is a great score on Rock Hollow.”
Tyler White fired a 6-over-par 78 to lead the Panthers and tie for the lowest score of the round. Ryan Rossi carded an 81 for Western, while Austin Smith’s 88 and Brennan Raines’ 93 rounded out the Panthers’ top four scores.
“Whitey played super with that 78,” Hoppes said. “He had a chance to play a playoff for medalist honors. Another guy who played really well is Ryan Rossi. That 81 — and he had to make a putt on that last hole from about 6 feet away and obviously that helped us.”
Host Peru and Cass both finished the day with the team scores of 342. Peru’s fifth golfer score (101) was four strokes lower than Cass’ (105), giving the Bengal Tigers the final advancing spot into Thursday’s Warsaw Regional.
“The thing we teach all season long is that you have to keep battling out there no matter how bad of a day you think you’re having,” Peru coach Doug Muzzillo said. “I tell them that the fifth man is going to be a factor when it counts the most, and it was that way [Monday].”
Isaac Badry’s 82 topped Peru’s card. Cameron Smith added an 84, Austin Finicle an 87 and Andrew Rice an 89.
“Isaac was 10-over through seven holes and comes back even par over the last 11 holes to shoot an 82,” Muzzillo said. “This sectional was pretty unpredictable. I thought the score — 330 — would be to score to win it, but it wasn’t us. But we were able to survive and advance, and when you get to the tourney, that’s what you’re looking for.”
Cass will send two golfers, brothers Zach and David Watterson, on to the regional round. Both carded 78s to force a playoff with Western’s White. Zach, a sophomore, emerged as the medalist after three playoff holes.
“The course was in awesome shape,” Zach Watterson said. “The greens were really tough. I had four three-putts, including the first hole in the playoff. My putting was off, but the greens rolled well. It was just mental errors. This means a lot. I had a couple mess ups on the greens. Other than that, I played solid and hit the ball well.”
The Kings had two of the only four players to shoot under 80. Jacob Martin shot an 82 and Ryan Aldridge added a 104 to round out the Kings’ team score.
“I had a few boys that struggled on the back nine,” Cass coach Susan Truax said. “They were playing really well, got up to a few holes and just kinda blew up. With placing an alternate in there to take the place of the fifth man made it difficult also. But, we had a lot of lessons learned out there that the boys can take with them and improve on. I’m very proud of the play Zach and David showed [Monday].”
Kokomo rounded out the top five teams, carding a 353, led by senior Josh Stewart’s 85. Ryan Balog added an 87 while Jake Hopkins fired an 89. Tanner Guyer and the squad’s other senior, Prajin Sravistav, both made the clubhouse at 92.
“We were very consistent [Monday], we just needed to throw a couple more low scores in there,” Kokomo coach Jay Davis said. “We had 85-87-89 and a couple 92s, so consistent but just not quite good enough. We stuck around a long time here. We thought the 353 might stand, but it looks like we’ll end up fifth. I have a good core group coming back, and our JV squad ended up 7-4 [in dual matches] after going winless the year before, so I have some good young golfers coming up who show some promise.”
Northwestern finished sixth as a team at 360, but did advance a competitor to the regional round as sophomore Blaine Brutus carded an 80 to finish as the third lowest individual from non-advancing teams.
“I knew that an 83 got out last year, so I knew anything around there was possible,” Brutus said. “I was nervous coming in, but I was able to hit it straight and make up putts for the most part. I felt the fairways were harder and rolled a lot longer than they way they played Sunday, and the greens were fast as usually. I knew this was possible, and this means a lot to me being as sophomore and all, because that means I still have two years to keep working on my game.”
For a full rundown of Monday’s Rock Hollow Sectional scores and placings, see the scoreboard.