Area golfer get ready for regionals

FORT WAYNE — After Triton beat out Warsaw in a fifth score tiebreaker for the sectional championship last year, the Tigers avenged the loss with a regional championship.
Last Friday, the Trojans lost out to Warsaw on a fifth score tiebreaker for the Warsaw Sectional title, and they’re hoping they can return the favor for last year’s regional meet as both teams take the field along with Culver Military Academy at Homestead Thursday.
Warsaw’s regional championship finish in 2011 pushed Triton into fourth in the team standings at Orchard Ridge, one place shy of a repeat state berth. The Trojans are hoping to make it back to the Legends, and they know that staying with the rival Tigers will go a long way toward accomplishing that.
“Obviously the regional field is going to be tougher than sectional, but I still think Warsaw is probably at the top of the list as far as the team to beat,” said Triton head coach Jack Carpenter. “It’s just that everybody is kind of bunched a little more evenly together than the spread out that you have at sectional. I still think that if we can stay right up there with them then we have a great chance of going on down to Indianapolis.”
Carpenter hasn’t decided on a fifth man for his regional lineup yet, and Triton has sometimes struggled to find a consistent fourth score this season. But for three players, Thursday’s regional meet is nothing new as 2011 individual state qualifier Quentyn Carpenter and teammates Ryan Rapp and Chandler Slone were all with the team during its last state qualification in 2010.
“We have three kids that are kind of veterans coming back, Quentyn and Chandler and Ryan. Those three kids have been through this. I think they understand what this is about; I don’t think they’ll be nervous,” said Jack Carpenter. “Actually I think they’re probably looking forward to it and they’re very excited about getting back. I think whoever ends up being my two man, whether it be Ryan or Chandler, that we can match up with just about anybody’s one and two at the regional. It’s that third and fourth score that worry me because it’s not been consistent all year.”
While Triton and CMA both made the three-team cut out of the Warsaw tourney, several area teams advanced individuals out of the state tournament’s sectional round of play last week.
Plymouth advanced not just one but two players as sophomore Nate Kolter finished just shy of an individual sectional championship in a playoff with 2011 state champion Tyler Ostrom of Warsaw, and senior John Ruff chipped in a slow roller from around 25 feet out in a three-way playoff to determine the last individual regional qualifier at Stonehenge.
“This is I believe the first time going back as far as the athletic department has records… we’ve not ever had two individuals, we’ve only had one,” said Plymouth head coach Ben Waymouth.
“To have two individuals is pretty remarkable considering the sectional field can only advance three players. Most of your sectionals are 12 to 14 schools and schools put five kids in. If you have 12 teams left over, you’re looking at out of 60 individual players, only three can advance to the next level. It just shows that our program is going the right direction. To have two individuals is very special, and I think it just shows we have some depth on our team and in our program.”
While Kolter and Ruff will travel together to the regional meet, the golfers will not be allowed to pair with one another at Orchard Ridge.
“What’s nerve wracking for me is Nate goes off of the front nine, and John goes off of the back nine,” said Waymouth. “Thankfully I can get a golf cart to run back and forth to keep tabs on both boys. That’s going to be kind of interesting.”
A trio of area golfers from John Glenn, Culver Community and LaVille will also make individual trips to this week’s regional. But although they advance without a team, they haven’t been totally alone in the process.
Culver sophomore Trent Elliott shot an 82 in the tough conditions at Warsaw to make it out in the second individual slot to Homestead this week, and he took a trip with the Northern State Conference-competitor Trojans as they played a practice round at Orchard Ridge Monday.
“I never dreamed that 82 would have gotten out of that sectional as strong as that field is, but we were just very pleased to say the least for him to be able to accomplish that goal of his,” said Culver coach Kyle Elliott.
“Jack (Carpenter) invited Trent to come along with his team to come along for a practice round over at Orchard Ridge, so Trent went over Monday and practiced with Coach Carpenter’s team. He had somebody to play along with. The Triton kids have been good friends of Trent’s for many years and they grew up playing junior golf, so it was just a nice gesture on Coach Carpenter’s part and his team’s as well for him to come along. They were fortunate obviously to advance this year and won it last year, so it’s something where his kids have experienced the course so it’s nice for Trent to go along and take input from them as well.”
LaVille’s Zach Gurtner and Glenn’s Tyler Prentkowski will make a trip out to the LaPorte Sectional Friday, meanwhile.
Prentkowski carded a 74, and Gurtner shot a 76 to advance out of last week’s South Bend Riley Sectional at Erskine. While they would rather have taken their teammates along for the ride, the sophomore friends will experience the next best thing as they take the field together at Beechwood.
“(Tyler) and Zach Gurtner are best friends,” said Glenn coach Randy Schmeltz. “They play all summer out together and they’re going up there to practice together. It’s kind of a neat little story, just them being best friends and competing together in that friendly way and both being able to make it out at the same time. That was really kind of cool because if his teammates couldn’t have gone with Tyler, his next choice would have been Zach.”