CULVER — Ryan Rapp is on a roll.
A week after winning the Uebele Invitational at Beechwood, the Marian University recruit and Triton senior claimed top honors at the Northern State Conference meet, beating out teammate and Ball State signee Quentyn Carpenter by a stroke with an even par 71 at Mystic Hills in Culver Saturday.
Rapp and Carpenter combined for seven birdies to lead the Trojans to the team championship at familiar Mystic, where the duo finished up their NSC careers four-for-four in championships three weeks after completing a perfect sweep of Marshall County golf championships there on April 29. That time it was Carpenter who beat out Rapp for the low medal with an even par score while Rapp finished three strokes back in a three-way tie for second place.
But Rapp carded one more birdie than Carpenter Saturday to finish with four at the NSC finale, his last coming on the par 5 16th as the friendly rivals went one and two, respectively.
“It’s awesome that I got to win it, especially senior year. To go out with something good since we don’t have very many tournaments coming up,” said Rapp.
“The last couple weeks I’ve been in a little bit of a putting slump, but it’s getting a little bit better. I’m striking the ball very well. That makes up for a lot definitely.”
Triton’s two Division I recruits gave the team a one-two punch that was tough to beat, but the Trojans didn’t get their best scores in the three through five spots Saturday.
Freshman Greg Music and Lucas Shafer both turned in 88s, while usual number three Tanner Shepherd struggled uncharacteristically with a 91. Triton’s 319 was still more than good enough to handle the rest of the eight-team NSC field as John Glenn finished 10 strokes back in second, while LaVille was third with a 337 followed by New Prairie’s 347, Bremen placed fifth with a 353 score, Jimtown was sixth with a 402, Culver Community followed in seventh with a 420, and Knox rounded out the field with a 441.
“It’s one of those happy/ sad moments where I’m very elated for Ryan and Quentyn going one-two, and I think right now I’d put those two players up against anybody in northern Indiana,” said Triton golf coach Jack Carpenter. “But three, four and five, this time of year shooting those scores on a course that they’re very familiar with is a little distressing. They should be better than that by far, especially the front nine. It’s very disappointing that they couldn’t do better than that. You sort of want to be peaking at this time of year instead of having poor rounds.”
Glenn was led by Tyler Prentkowki — who tied for second with Rapp and LaVille’s Zach Gurtner at the Marshall County meet at Mystic — in third-place individually with a round of 75, while Michael Schmeltz shot 83 followed closely by Nick Vandervelden’s 85 and Austen Hayes’ 86.
“Prentkowski has led the way all year long. Another great round. He was within a stroke of Quentyn there on hole 17 — he was like 10 feet out for a birdie, and Quentyn had like a 30-footer and Quentyn knocks his in and Tyler misses his and then Quentyn gets up and down on 18 for par, and it was right down to the end,” said Glenn head coach Randy Schmeltz. “Quentyn always comes through there at the end, it seems like. He’s a very good player.”
“I’m very proud of Nick VanderVelden, a senior. He shot 38 on the front and double bogeyed number nine,” continued Schmeltz. “He struggled on two holes on the back side but otherwise he had a real nice round for us. Austin Hayes has improved tremendously for us the last month, just really steady, hitting the ball a long way, putting better. We had four kids in the top 11 and three kids all-conference, and Hayes was just one stroke away. We’re creeping on Triton, but they always seem to get a little bit in front of us.”
LaVille got a 77 from Zach Gurtner, good enough for fourth individually along with Bremen’s Kevin Woodyard, while Cam Gurtner shot a solid 81 for seventh place after coming in in 37 at the turn and recent team re-addition Zach Hostetler finished with an 88 for 13th. Tyler Thomas shot 91 to complete the Lancers’ team score.
“It’s about what I expected, but after the front nine I thought we might be real competitive,” said LaVille coach Alan Burch. “We shot real well, but we didn’t play the second nine nearly as well.
“It’s possible that you really play well and you’re a little overconfident and you get a bad shot and you try to make up for it on the next hole, and it doesn’t work. The second nine I think is just a little tougher, and between the combination of the two, we just kind of let it slip away.”
Besides Woodyard’s solid round of 77 for fourth place, the Lions struggled somewhat Saturday.
Micah Knoblock shot 87 to finish in 12th place overall, while Sky Allen shot 94 and Clayton Philips carded 95 for Bremen, which entered the NSC tourney with just two nine-hole losses in conference play, both to Triton.
“So far throughout our dual and tri-ways we’d only lost two in conference, and both of those were to Triton,” said Bremen coach Ryan Eakins. “Coming in we thought we had a really good chance to get second place, and we thought even if we didn’t play well we could get third and worst-case scenario probably fourth. But I think today was kind of proof for our guys that over the course of 10 or 12 weeks, there’s a lot of golf out there and a lot of room for improvement. If you look at our scores today compared to the beginning of the season, we haven’t improved one bit. We had a week at the end of April, beginning of May where we shot in the 160s a couple times but now all of a sudden we’re back up into the 180s range.”
“I think Kevin’s done a really nice job of sustaining what he worked on last summer and fall, and once again he’s going to be rewarded with all-conference, but a couple of other guys didn’t play well today,” continued Eakins. “I think they’ll probably look back on this and say they left some putts out there and whatnot.”
Culver’s story Saturday was much the same as it has been throughout the season with a respectable top finish from Trent Elliott — who shot 82 to place eighth individually — while the rest of the Cavs’ inexperienced lineup couldn’t break the 100-stroke barrier with Kenny VanDePutte turning in a season-low 107, Cody Peterson coming in in 115, and Tevin Jones a stroke back at 116.
“We had hoped to finish sixth — we had seen some scores posted with Jimtown being in that sixth position, and that’s the first time we’ve gone head to head with them this season in a tournament or even in a dual. We weren’t sure how they’d pan out in a tournament, and they shot some good scores,” said Culver coach Mike Elliott. “We had some kids shoot some solid rounds. Kenny VanDePutte, a freshman, ended up a season-low, so I was very pleased to see Kenny do well. Trent Elliott ended up 82, a little bit higher than he was in the county. He struggled a little bit on the front side but put together a 38 on the back side, which traditionally plays a little tougher, so I was glad to see him rebound a little bit on the back side and make it in that top 10 for all-conference.”
“It’s a tough field. We’re always excited to host this NSC. There are some talented players in here, and the scores show that,” he added.
Inexperience was also the byword of the day for the Redskins, but Knox did get a solid 99 from third-flighter Jacob Albon, while Hunter Gilbert struggled at number one with a 110, Curtis Scherer shot 115, and Dante Freet finished in 117.
“We’ve got two sophomores and three freshmen so it’s a learning curve for them,” said Knox coach Brian Earnest. “I know they weren’t able to crack the win column last year and this year we’ve been able to get three or four wins, so that’s been good. But it’s a learning experience for them. Most of them are playing in their first conference tournament, and the scores weren’t where we wanted them to be but they weren’t bad, and it’s just great for the kids to be able to get out and experience something like this.”
With Saturday’s finisher, the NSC field will now go its separate ways with area teams splitting into four sectionals on Friday, May 31.
Triton and Culver both head to the Warsaw Sectional at Stonehenge, while Glenn and LaVille travel to the South Bend Riley tournament at Erskine, Bremen plays at Black Squirrel at the Fairfield Sectional, and Knox plays at Beechwood at the LaPorte tilt.
• NORTHERN STATE CONFERENCE MEET
At Mystic Hills (par 71)
TEAM SCORES: 1. TRITON 319, 2. JOHN GLENN 329, 3. LaVILLE 337, 4. NEW PRAIRIE 347, 5. BREMEN 353, 6. JIMTOWN 402, 7. CULVER 420, 8. KNOX 441.
Top 15: 1. Ryan Rapp (T) 71, 2. Quentyn Carpenter (T) 72, 3. Tyler Prentkowski (G) 75, 4. Kevin Woodyard (B) and Zach Gurtner (L) 77, 6. C.J. Cowalski (NP) 78, 7. Cam Gurtner (L) 81, 8. Trent Elliott (C) 82, 9. Michael Schmeltz (G) 83, 10. Nick VanderVelden (G) 85, 11. Austen Hayes (G) 86, 12. Micah Knoblock (B) 87, 13. Zach Hostetler (L), Broc Maurer (J), Jacob Chadderdon (NP), Mitchell Newport (NP), Lucas Shafer (T), Greg Music (T) 88.
TRITON (319): Quentyn Carpenter 72, Ryan Rapp 71, Tanner Shepherd 91, Lucas Shafer 88, Greg Music 88.
JOHN GLENN (329): Tyler Prentkowski 75, Michael Schmeltz 83, Nick VanderVelden 85, Austen Hayes 86, Christian Jaske 97.
LaVILLE (337): Zach Gurtner 77, Cam Gurtner 81, Zach Hostetler 88, Tyler Thomas 91, Andrew Hostetler 142.
BREMEN (353): Kevin Woodyard 77, Micah Knoblock 87, Clayton Philips 95, Spencer Hille 99, Sky Allen 94.
CULVER (420): Trent Elliott 82, Cody Peterson 115, Tristan Schultz 119, Kenny VanDePutte 107, Tevin Jones 116.
KNOX (441): Hunter Gilbert 110, Curtis Scherer 115, Jacob Albon 99, Dante Freet 117, Triston Krueger 141.