Photo by Gary Nieter, Times-Union

Warsaw senior Chase Byron pops his ball onto the putting surface of the tenth hole at Swan Lake Golf Club’s Black Course, where the IHSAA Plymouth Boys Golf Regional was held Thursday.
Photo by Gary Nieter, Times-Union Warsaw senior Chase Byron pops his ball onto the putting surface of the tenth hole at Swan Lake Golf Club’s Black Course, where the IHSAA Plymouth Boys Golf Regional was held Thursday.

PLYMOUTH – Among the annual goals for the Warsaw boys golf team is to win sectional and show up at the regional with a shot at advancing to state.

While the Tigers finished third at sectional, it was good enough to advance to Thursday’s regional at Swan Lake Golf Club. So the Tigers took their shot and duplicated their third place finish to advance to the state finals next week.

Warsaw even duplicated its team score from the sectional, 318, at the regional. Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger was the regional champion at 305 and Penn was second at 307. The Tigers edged out Fort Wayne Canterbury and Peru by one shot each for the final invitation to Carmel.

It will be Warsaw’s first appearance in the state finals since 2013.

Senior Chase Byron and freshman Cal Hoskins led the Tigers, each shooting a three-over par 75. Zach LaLonde checked in with an 83 and Tucker Carlisle posted an 85 to complete the scoring. Jack Yeager’s 87 rounded out the Tiger team.

Warsaw coach Rich Haddad said he reminded his players of the program’s lofty goals, and encouraged them to just take their chances on the course.

“I told the boys on the bus this morning  ‘our goal every year is to play for the opportunity to make state. They did that by getting to regionals, and on a day where we had as much of a chance as anybody else, and they made it happen.

“We thought we had a chance, but we certainly felt like the underdogs. We thought ‘let’s go out an play good golf and see what happens.’ We felt like we needed to have a real good day at the regional, and  we had a good enough day to get third, so we feel great,” Haddad said.

“We had a great first nine, but Zach didn’t have a good front nine for him,” Haddad said. “But he really turned it around and was one under on the back nine, and that made up for a couple of the guys maybe sliding back a little bit.

“Overall, it worked out well. Winning (the Northern Lakes) conference was a goal, and doing that and playing well at the sectional helped the kids’ confidence.”

While encouraging the players to give it their best shot, Haddad admitted to having some doubt as to whether or not the Tigers could pull off a state finals appearance.

“There’s a lot of joy from every kid, and for that matter the coach. This is something we thought about, that we wanted. I’m not sure we felt we were at a level team-wise that it would happen, because we’d been a little inconsistent through the year.”

Now that they are headed to the last high school tournament of the year, Haddad wants the Tigers to have a ‘go for it’ approach next week.

“The attitude will be ‘let’s go out and play our best golf of the year, and show everybody we belong here and we’re going to compete.’ As a young team, this is an incredible experience that will create a lot of momentum for the program going forward,” he said.

Local Individuals

Triton’s Chase Butler and Manchester’s Harley Kruschwitz advanced to regionals as individuals, but slow starts held both players back and neither qualified for state. Kruschwitz posted a 79 and Butler an 89 on Thursday.

Alex Hedrick of Columbia City claimed the last individual spot with a 75. Johnny Filler of Bishop Dwenger was the medalist, winning a playoff over Adam Delong of Homestead. Kash Bellar of Peru and Brandon Hanson of Kokomo also advance to the state finals as individuals.

Triton coach Jack Carpenter said “he struggled a little bit and got off to a tough start. Chase hit a decent tee shot, but three-putted his first hole, hit it into the water on the second hole and three-putted the third, so he was five over after three holes.

“He settled down a little bit, with pars on four holes in a row. But he missed a short put and three-putted the last hole on the front nine.

“It was the first time Chase had been in the limelight by himself, and he probably had a little more nerves than he wanted to admit. If he had two-putted the first hole, I think he would have settled right away and been much better off. On the back nine you could see frustration setting in, and he hit some very uncharacteristic shots for him. His short game, which is usually very solid, left him today.

“But I think he’s pretty proud of himself for shooting a 74 in sectional and getting to the regional.”

Manchester coach Pat Brandenberg told a very similar story about Kruschwitz, a junior who had qualified for state as both a freshman and a sophomore.

“Harley got off to a rough start, three-putting the first green then overshot an iron shot into the water on the next hole. In the first three holes, he was four over par.

He fought to get it back, but his iron play was just not up to his standards today, and he had distance control issues. It was just one of those days for him; everyone has them, it just wasn’t a good time to have one of those days.”

The IHSAA state boys golf final will be held at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel on  Tuesday and Wednesday, with first tee set for 8 a.m. each day. Haddad said the team will head down to Carmel on Monday to play a practice round, and he should learn Warsaw’s specific tee times for Tuesday and Wednesday in the next few days.

The official IHSAA scoring recap from the Plymouth Sectional can be found here.