Jun. 11—Peru senior Kash Bellar, Kokomo junior Brandon Hansen and Tipton sophomore Maverick Conaway have big days planned Tuesday and Wednesday of this coming week. They'll be playing at the IHSAA Boys Golf State Finals.
Bellar, Hansen and Conaway each qualified as an individual in regional action Thursday, with just a stroke separating the three. Bellar shot 74 at Swan Lake's Black Course to tie for fourth-low score overall at the Plymouth Regional and take an individual spot in next week's state finals. The state meet runs Tuesday and Wednesday at Prairie View G.C. in Carmel.
Hansen was a stroke behind at 75 at Plymouth to advance to state, a stroke clear of having to contest a playoff.
Conaway had the most tense day of them all. He shot a 75 at The Players Club and survived a seven-hole playoff to take the last individual advancing spot from the Muncie Central Regional.
Bellar and Hansen are both making their second trip to state after heading to the big stage in 2019. The 2020 spring season was wiped out by the Coronavirus pandemic.
Kokomo coach Matt York said Hansen "being really consistent" is what got him back to state.
"He just made it really easy on himself," York said. "He hit tons of fairways and tons of greens. He just didn't make a putt all day. It was an easy 75. He did double bogey the last hole. Other than that he just hit the ball consistently and made it easy on himself."
On the team front, Kokomo took ninth with a score of 320, tying Fort Wayne Blackhawk Christian on strokes but Blackhawk took eighth place based on the team's fifth score. Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger was the team champ with 298, Colombia City shot 302 and Penn 311 to take the other team spots at state. Maconaquah was 16th at 352 and Cass 17th at 367.
Also for the Wildkats on Thursday, Karson Parrott shot 81, and Jackson Richards and Ty Lauderbaugh each shot 82. Kokomo finished nine strokes behind the third advancing team so Hansen will fly the Red and Blue at Prairie View on his own.
"For him to do it as a freshman and again as a junior, I know it was a big deal for him," York said.
"A little disappointed that we couldn't play a little better but I knew it would take our best effort and we didn't have that in us, but it's always great to have Kokomo represented at the state meet.
"The boys were disappointed obviously, but it would have taken our best effort."
Among local teams at Plymouth, Hayden Williamson led Maconaquah with a 78, Mason Taylor shot 80, Drake Guyer shot 89 and Triston Herschberger 105. For Cass, Rowdy Frey shot 83, Mason Hahn 87, Jensen Burrous 94 and Jaden Younts 103.
Individually, Western's Kyle Sanders shot 77, two shots away from forcing a playoff to advance, and Peru's Jake Van Baalen shot 89.
MUNCIE CENTRAL REGIONAL
At The Players Club, Conaway came out on top of a three-player playoff with Connersville's Jonah Graham and Norwell's Landon Chamberlain. Graham was eliminated after the first hole and Conaway and Chamberlain continued to duel.
"They both had chances to win and they just couldn't take advantage of it and finally Maverick parred the last hole and the other kid had a five," Tipton coach Kenny Day said.
The playoff alternated between No. 1 and No. 18 until finally Conaway had the edge. Each golfer took turns looking like he'd take the hole but the scores kept matching until the seventh playoff hole.
"We thought we could win it, they thought they could win it and it just came down to that," Day said.
Conaway will be making his debut at state.
"Maverick's an awful good kid, he's a good player," Day said. "I would have disappointed for him if he didn't make it. Memorial Day weekend he won the GolfWeek championship in Lexington, Kentucky, in his age group and I mean that's quite a feat.
"You'd like to take all of them, but even taking one is still good."
Tipton came close to taking the team to state, finishing fourth. The top three teams and top five individuals outside an advancing team reach state. Hamilton Southeastern won the regional with a 296, followed by Indianapolis Cathedral at 301 and Fishers at 313. Tipton was fourth at 318.
Also for the Blue Devils, Gavin Hare shot 79, Mylan Swan shot 81 and Nolan Swan 83.
"We were debriefing on the way home — a lot of what ifs," Day said. "We had one four-putt, we had a three-put 15 feet from the flag, Gavin had a lot of actual lip outs. It was a lot of what ifs, but it was a good day, a very good day."
Day strengthened the team's schedule this season to give them opportunities to see the competition level they'd need to contend with.
"We had a very good season," he said. "I stepped up our schedule big time.
"To look at the enrollment of all the schools that were at the Muncie Regional, we were probably the smallest school there and we got fourth place, so I'm very happy with that. We had a good season, had a real good season."