Twin Lakes

LOGANSPORT — The consistency Twin Lakes’ boys’ golf team has shown this year has been off the charts, said Indians coach Tom Harker.

In fact, it’s been record-setting.

“We’ve had some really good teams at Twin Lakes,” he said. “We’ve had several teams make the state finals in the boys and we broke their school record for 18-hole average by about 10 strokes this year. That’s pretty amazing considering some of the talent they’ve had walk through our school.”

Consisting of talented freshmen and sophomores, the Indians have been averaging around 311 as a team. On Saturday at the Dykeman Golf Course in Logansport, they won the program’s second straight sectional title with a 309.

That was 11 strokes better than the host school Logansport, which shot a 320. Rensselaer Central also qualified for regional with a 330 for third, holding off Rochester (340).

Kankakee Valley was fifth at 345 and Covenant Christian of DeMotte placed sixth at 352. Winamac, South Newton, Caston and Pioneer also posted team scores.

The top three teams and top three individuals not on a qualifying team earn spots at regional.

A heavy favorite coming into the tournament, the Indians were looking to set a school record for 18 holes Saturday.

“We were hoping for a little bit more,” Harker said. “Our school record is 305 and we were gunning for that today. We didn’t quite get there, but we’re happy to get the win.

“We’ve had an awesome season. We’ve won every invite we’ve been in except at Kampen (Purdue University’s course) where we got beat by Westfield and Zionsville who are among the top three in the state.”

Logansport’s Tyler Vietti was the overall champion with a 2-over-par 72, winning a sudden death playoff with Kankakee Valley’s Drew Andree on hole number one. Andree, a senior, posted the best score early but had to wait for the final three teams to finish.

Andree said he was able to ride some momentum into the sectional.

“I had some confidence coming in,” he said. “Definitely not thinking I could be in contention to win right now, but it was staying confident and staying positive with every shot even though it’s a hard thing to do.”

A slow start on the front nine led to a 39 for Andree, who stormed back with a 33 on the back.

“I didn’t make putts on the front, but when I got to the back, the putter started heating up,” he said. “I started hitting more greens and had better chances to score.”

KV’s scorecard also included Gabe Kistler with an 81, Caleb Swallow tie a 90 and Aaron Rhoades with a 102. Logan Burke also competed.

By earning co-medalist, Andree will now compete on his home course at regional. For the third straight year, Sandy Pines will serve as host.

“It sets up kind of like this,” Andree said of the strategy in tackling Sandy Pines. “You don’t really have to hit the long ball to score there. You got to hit greens, got to hit putts. That’s the big thing.”

Jamison Ousley, a sophomore had a 74 to lead the Indians, with freshman teammate Leo Dellinger firing a 79. Sophomore Nick Alexander also shot a 79 and Hayden Hubbard, the lone senior on the roster, shot a 77.

“He stepped up big for us and shot a 77,” Harker said of Hubbard. “His goal is 79, so he did real well today.”

It was the third sectional in four years for the Indians under Harker.

“This is the best team I’ve coached overall,” Harker said. “We’re solid across the board. We don’t have lot of weakness. And we have guys coming up who look promising as well. Things are going well for Twin Lakes golf.”

The Bombers waited nearly 365 days to get another shot at making a trip to regional. Last year, RCHS fell a stroke shy, finishing fourth behind upstart Rochester. The Bombers shot a 334 at Dykeman in 2021, so Bombers coach Eric Nowlin set 330 as a goal.

“We hit our number,” he said. “We came over on Wednesday this week and we had a nice practice round and we were right at 329. We stayed consistent with that. Today got a little stressful in a lot of spots. But I told the kids, I was really, really happy with how well they bounced back from some moments where it got a little hairy. In this game of golf, one bad thing happens and it can torpedo four holes in a row. That was the biggest takeaway from last year to this year.

“Last year, we shot a 334 here and we were surprised we went that low and I don’t think mature-wise we were ready for that experience. So when we missed it by one, we really drove that home all year long and they really took it to heart and made sure that didn’t happen again.”

The team fell into place behind four-year varsity player Zach Hillan, who was one of six players to finish under 80 with a 79.

“Zach is so steady,” Nowlin said. “Comes from a long history of Bomber golfers. He’s the last Hillan to come through. He has some moments this year where he wasn’t playing great, but he’s so unflappable. His family said he’ll get there and I said, ‘I know he will.’ He’s just so easy going. Nothing really stresses him out. And I knew he was going to go low today because the last few weeks, he’s been playing so stress free. He’s just enjoying the game.”

The Bombers had all five golfers finish under 90, with junior Zach Geleott carding an 81, junior Harrison Odle firing an 84 and the team’s othe senior, Ky Risner, adding an 86.

“Zach Geleott shot an 81, but he had some moments out there where I thought he might shoot a 91. I’m looking forward to when he gets it and it’s coming, Nowlin said. “His swing is just too good for him not to be around 75 or lower on a lot of courses he plays. He works tirelessly at it.”

Carter Drone had an 89 for the kick-out score.

“Carter Drone got us off to such a great start today. He was at 40 with one or two holes left on the front nine and ends up with a 43,” Nowlin said. “He kind of got in some trouble on the back there, but as I told him as he was finishing up, ‘Buddy, you played so well getting to that spot where you had some wiggle room. I just need you under 90,’ and he did. We hit our number. We hit our goal. And we get another week.”

It’s the first regional appearance for RCHS in five years when Hillan’s brothers, Ben and Jacob, led the Bombers to the next round. Ben also shot a 79 at Dykeman that year.

While Rensselaer gets its trip to regional, the Bombers aren’t expected to challenge for the state finals. However, Nowlin does think one or two of his golfers can post contending scores to qualify as individuals.

“It is going to be a blood bath at Sandy Pines. It’s going to be an absolute retched day for golf, but in a good way. The competition level at that regional, I’ll put it up against anybody in the state of Indiana. When you start pulling from northern Hamilton County and get the Carmels and the Westfields of the world. You have an amazing program like Twin Lakes that will shoot a great score. You got all of Northwest Indiana coming in. What a great environment,” he said.

Harker feels his Indians can put up a competitive score at a course they have experience at.

“We’re looking forward to regionals. We understand what it is. It’s a really strong field, but we believe we have a shot if we play well,” Harker said.

Leading the Knights of DeMotte was Davis Peterson with an 81 and Arthur Walstra with an 86. Joshua Dejong shot a 92 and Abe Veldman finished with a 93. Jacob Dyke had the fifth-man’s score of 94.

For South Newton, dual-sport athlete Kayden Cruz — he also played baseball for the Rebels this spring — shot an 89 and Blake Whaley had a 93. Lex Tebo and Alex Kinding also scored for the Rebels.

North Newton’s lone entry was Elijah Bultema.

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