WARSAW — Plymouth and Triton hope to get a boost from their top flight status as the Warsaw Boys Golf Sectional gets underway Friday at Stonehenge.
The Pilgrims and the Trojans will tee off at 10 a.m. with meet favorite and host Warsaw as the top three seeds at the tourney, while Culver Military Academy vies with Tippecanoe Valley as the other teams predicted to be contenders for regional qualification, and Culver Community and Bremen will also compete among the 15-team field at Warsaw.
LaVille and John Glenn will contend for one of the top three spots that guarantee a regional berth at the 12-team South Bend Riley Sectional at Erskine Municipal, meanwhile, and golfers from both fields will be looking to advance as the top three players from non-advancing teams earn individual berths to the regional round of the IHSAA’s 76th Annual State Tournament.
“This is the first year since I’ve been coaching that we’ve been paired with the two best teams, so for us from a mental standpoint it’s a huge advantage,” said Plymouth head coach Ben Waymouth. “Playing with the better teams, that just kind of pulls guys along and gets them in that frame of mind a little bit easier and a little bit faster. We’re looking at it as nothing but an advantage for our kids.”
“It’s a very comfortable pairing for us,” echoed Triton head coach Jack Carpenter. “The last three years we have gotten very comfortable playing with schools that are very good. We haven’t shied away from big tournaments… and my kids know the Plymouth boys very well. So I think it’s very comfortable for us. We’d much rather play with the better competition than the other end of the spectrum. I think it’ll keep us sharper, more focused, and hopefully it’ll raise the level of our game.”
Plymouth has already suffered losses to Northern Lakes Conference competitor Warsaw as well as both Triton and CMA in a competitive three-way meet back on April 19. But the Pilgrims enter sectional play on a high note after carding a team season-low at the Lancer Invitational last weekend and hope to earn their program its first regional qualification since 2006.
“Right now we’re playing our best. We’re peaking coming into the sectional,” said Waymouth. “Things are going well in that regard, score-wise.”
“If our kids play to their potential, we have a very good chance of moving on to regional as a team,” he added. “Obviously, if we have anybody that’s playing well on Friday to advance as an individual if we don’t advance as a team, that’s kind of our second goal to fall into.”
The Trojans enter the postseason following a Northern State Conference- and Marshall County-championship season and are hoping history will repeat itself after last year’s fifth score criterion sectional championship win over Warsaw on the way to a team state berth.
“Winning sectional is going to be very difficult with Warsaw as strong as they are,” said Carpenter. “We have not played very well as a team yet this year. We’ve been very successful, but I told the kids last week that we haven’t really had four guys play well in the same match, whether it be nine or 18 (holes). Our main goal is to get in the top three and make it out to regional; winning the sectional would kind of be icing on the cake.”
While Triton looks to repeat as team champion, No. 1 Quentyn Carpenter should be in contention for low medalist honors at Friday’s meet.
Carpenter has made the second day cut at the state finals both of the past two seasons. His game has shown incremental improvement since his decision last year to forgo his role as point guard for the Triton basketball team to work on his golf game year round, and he comes into Warsaw with wins in his last three tournaments, including the prestigious Lafayette Jefferson Invitational Saturday.
“We had practice tonight at Stonehenge, we left about 7:30, and he’s out putting right now,” said Jack Carpenter, Quentyn’s father as well as his coach. “He’s just totally dedicated into making himself a very, very good player. He’s seen some great success; he’s won the last three tournaments that we’ve played in and shot very well in each of those tournaments.
“He is just a grinder and he’s determined. He’s kind of like a good scorer in basketball — he’s going to find a way to get the ball in the hole even when he doesn’t have his best stuff.”