Senior Staff Writer
No longer a bridesmaid, Center Grove’s boys golf team dominated that state championship June 14 with a record-setting performance at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel.
Led by medalist Noah Gillard with a 36-hole 138, the Trojans fired a 3-under-par 573 (292-281), the lowest 18- and 36-hole scores in the tournament’s 81-year history.
Center Grove’s 281 on the second day broke the 283 mark of state champion Columbus North in 2008. The 36-hole total bettered the 575 set by state champion Westfield in 2013.
The scores: juniors Gillard 72-66 – 138 and Sam Jean, 77-66 – 143; senior Ethan Shepherd 171-73 – 144; sophomores Logan Anderson 72-76 – 148 and Luke DeHaven 77-80 – 158.
Gillard earned medalist honors with a 6 under, two strokes better than Nick Osterburg of Perry Meridian, who fired a 70-70 – 140. Gillard, last year’s runner-up medalist, shot even-par 72 June 13 before shooting 6 under the next day. Jean was third in the medalist race; Shepherd, who heads to Indiana University in the fall, tied for fourth.
The Trojans claimed the state title in their fourth straight trip to the finals after finishing third last year, second in 2015 and sixth in 2014. Center Grove’s three straight regional championships are the most consecutive in the state.
Center Grove again walked into the state championship ranked No. 1 in the final coaches poll. They also came in on a roll after recording this season’s lowest sectional championship score of 288 and regional title score of 278.
Center Grove, under first-year coach Matt Rodman, made its championship comeback one day after trailing Carmel by six strokes. The Trojans were eight strokes behind after five holes June 14. The Trojans went 1 under on the next three holes while Carmel soared to 8 over. Going into the final nine holes, the Trojans were only one stroke behind. Jean’s birdie on No. 12 pushed the Trojans into the lead that they never relinquished.
Rodman expects to return with four players from this year’s state championship team along with a lot of depth hopefully to make a run at the 2018 state title. Rodman succeeded veteran coach Jim Williams, who stepped down for health reasons.