Triton earns 2nd ever state berth

WINONA LAKE — However low Triton goes, Warsaw always seems to be a stroke better.
Less than a week after the Trojans suffered a disappointing 314-315 championship defeat at the hands of the host Tigers at the Warsaw Sectional, Triton came up a stroke short of a regional championship at Stonehenge.
The Trojans shaved a full 10 strokes off last Friday’s sectional tally with a 305 at Thursday’s regional round of play at Stonehenge, but Warsaw number one Jon Schram went eagle on the last hole of his team’s final flight to post a 2-under 69 and force a fifth man tiebreaker. As a cheer went up from the Tigers contingent, the Trojans bowed their heads as they walked away from the 18th green.
Warsaw backed up its sectional title with an 82-93 fifth-man tiebreaker for the regional championship, while Triton took runner-up honors once more with a 305. Bishop Dwenger grabbed the final spot out to next Tuesday’s state finals in Franklin with a 309, while NorthWood closed the year five strokes back with a 314 in sixth place in the ultra-competitive 18-team field, and Plymouth top flighters Nate Kolter and Ben Schenk bowed out after earning individual cuts out to regional, as did Glenn’s Tyler Prentkowski, Culver Military’s Ben Sharff and LaVille’s Cameron Gurtner.
Although Thursday’s regional pill might have been a bitter one for the Trojans, it was made much more palatable by the knowledge that this runner-up finish came with only the team’s second-ever trip to the state finals next Tuesday at The Legends in Franklin, and the mood among Triton team members was visibly cheerier than it was after last week’s narrow loss.
“It’s just like ‘It’s one shot, let us get over that Warsaw hump,’” said Triton head golf coach Jack Carpenter. “But I’m so proud that we’re going to get out, though. The fact that we’re going to finish our season — we have not been ranked all year, not even gotten honorable mention, and we’re one of the top 15 teams in the state right now. That says a lot for a 1A program playing against these types of schools, so I’m very very proud of them for what we did today.”
With Triton already done some two hours prior and Warsaw’s fifth score already in, Schram’s 20-foot putt for eagle on the par 5 18 at Stonehenge represented a collective blow to the Trojans, but it was a particularly disappointing finish for Triton number one Quentyn Carpenter.
Last Friday Carpenter finished up as the individual sectional runner-up four strokes behind teammate and fellow DI signee Ryan Rapp’s 3-under 68. Carpenter had been gearing up for a likely playoff for top honors Thursday after three of the four golfers in his grouping turned in identical 1-under-par 70s, but Schram’s eagle denied him the opportunity. Carpenter’s own finish made it even more irksome as he hit into the water off the tee on number nine at Stonehenge to bogey his final hole and finish just one behind Schram, a fellow Ball State recruit who will room with Carpenter next year.
“I had a 70 in there so if he just birdies we’d have tied for the lead and have had to go out and play it off, but I bogeyed my last hole,” said Carpenter. “I’m going to tell him that later, and way for him to step up and make that putt. Kudos to him.”
“It is tough to swallow, but you’ve got to give that kid credit. Obviously he played that hole incredibly well,” said Jack Carpenter. “We can go back and we can look at Quentyn bogeying, driving in the water off the tee, and maybe it wasn’t the right club selection, but when you’ve played well all day hitting fairways you stick that club in your hand and you feel like you’re going to put it in the place you need to be. That ball could’ve bounced left, it could’ve went straight, but no, it took a right turn. But his round was solid today. He told me when he got done it was probably the most exhausting round he’s played in a long time because every shot was just total concentration just because of the group he played with. My goodness, three kids were one under par, the other kid shoots even par, so a great grouping for him to keep focused.”
While Quentyn led Triton with a 70, individual Warsaw Sectional champion and Marian University prospect Rapp finished up with an even-par 71 Thursday. The Trojans seniors’ combined regional scores equalled their 1-under tally last Friday, and it was Triton’s three and four scores that wound up making the 10-stroke difference at regional.
Tanner Shepherd cut a full seven strokes off his sectional score with an 81 at regional, while Lucas Shafer finished two strokes back with an 83 to clinch the Trojans a program-second state finals berth.
“We just focused on the things that we don’t do that well at,” said Shepherd of the practice between sectional and regional. “Just a lot of putting and chipping and going to the range a lot, played 18 holes.”
“I’m very proud of Tanner; I rode his tail very hard,” said Jack Carpenter. “As I told some other people I’m brutally honest with my kids. I don’t pull any punches with them, and they respect that. I know they’re going to give me everything they’ve got. We tried to simplify things with Tanner, just one swing thought, and that was hit the ball straight. At times he tries to move the ball too much left or right, go with the contours, but I said ‘You get on that tee, just hit every shot straight, right down the middle.’ For the most part today he did a good job.
I’m very proud for the way that he responded to a lot of the criticism he took from the coach, through the paper and privately as well.”
While Triton advanced to state, NorthWood finished up the year with a 314 just one stoke behind Fairfield and five strokes off third-place Bishop Dwenger.
Dylan Gessinger shot 73 to lead the team, while Payton Grubbs carded 77, Logan Kauffman shot 80, and Ryan Thompson tallied an 84 to complete the Panthers’ score. Brayden Glaser carded 87 in the number five flight for the Panthers.
Thursday’s round represented the first time NorthWood had played at Stonehenge this season, and home course advantage seemed to be the operative factor as both Warsaw and Triton were playing on very familiar ground.
“We shot a 314, which is isn’t a bad score for us, it’s just not good enough at a regional to get out,” said NorthWood head coach Brad Duerkson. “Like I said before we had to go below 310 to have a shot, and we knew that going in. We fell a little short of the goal.
“We had a couple doubles and some triples that you can’t have on a scorecard. We talked about limiting it to pars and bogeys and nothing worse, and it just didn’t work out that way today.”
It was a solid finish against a top-notch field in the first year of an IHSAA regional realignment that saw 18 teams filter into Stonehenge, six more than last year’s team field at Orchard Ridge. But it was nevertheless a tough finale for NorthWood coming off last week’s program second-ever sectional championship at Fairfield and a Northern Lakes Conference season in which the Panthers beat rival Warsaw in multiple tournaments and finished tied up with the Tigers for the NLC title.
“When it’s your home course it’s a huge advantage,” said Duerkson. “Triton plays here a lot, but they played well, they shot 305. That’s a great number anywhere. But yeah that plays in; home course advantage is bigger than any other advantage in sports.”
The Panthers were denied even the consolation prize of an individual state berth as Gessinger’s 2-over 73 fell a stroke shy of a top five cut for individuals from non-advancing teams.
East Noble’s Michael Sharp and Mishawaka Marian’s Michael Makris both carded 70 for the first two tickets out, while Northridge’s Will Erekson and Heritage’s Carter Dornseif turned in dual 71s, and Carroll’s Stephen Shupert grabbed the last qualifying spot with a 1-over 72.
“He was solid throughout,” said Duerkson of Gessinger. “He birdied two holes on the back. He actually birdied the 18th hole to get 2 over. He was solid throughout, and that’s a great score. I’m shocked that it’s not an easy out. I thought 73 would be easily one of the top five scores, but having 18 teams here — I think that’s 88 individuals — it’s tough.”
While Gessinger and company bowed out in the team tournament Thursday, Glenn’s Tyler Prentkowski closed the year with a solid 75 and LaVille’s Cameron Gurtner closed with a 77 after the duo advanced individually from the South Bend Riley Sectional last week. CMA’s Ben Sharff finished with a rough round of 84 after advancing individually, while fellow Warsaw Sectional individual qualifiers Nate Kolter and Ben Schenk of Plymouth made their final bows with respective scores of 79 and 78 Thursday.
“Nate got off to a good start, birdied the second hole, had some promise to his round. Both guys on the front nine had steady back-to-back holes, but we dropped some shots, and in this competitive environment you can’t drop shots,” said Plymouth head coach Ben Waymouth. “They played consistent, they played decent; both of them were 78 or 79, and that’s about to where their average was at. It was going to take an above average round today to get out and advance as an individual. As a goal they were looking at mid 70s — 74, 75, 76 — and where the break point was at today was a couple shots less than that.”
“Not that they played poorly. They played well,” added Waymouth. “They just had to have an above average round with the caliber of the talent that’s here today. It just didn’t fall into place for them today.”
Although they came up short of a state berth, Kolter’s and Schenk’s finishes at regional provided a glimmer of promise for the future of Plymouth golf as the team was one of just two that boasted a pair of individual qualifiers at Stonehenge along with Lewis Cass. Both will return next year, as will four of the Pilgrims’ top five. Three seniors departed the program after last week’s fifth-place team finish at sectional in Kurt Corsbie, Kendall Fosler and Christian Weirs, but Waymouth expects his team to be ready to pick up where it left off next spring.
“Those three guys are going to be missed, but the good news is both guys that advanced to today are coming back,” said the Plymouth coach. “Nate Kolter’s a junior, Ben Schenk’s a sophomore. Zach Craft is a junior, he’ll be coming back. Reis Yoder played the five spot at the end of the season for us and he’s a sophomore so we’ve got some good things coming down the road next year and some guys coming up from junior high to fill our freshman group next year to solidify those guys a little bit more. We’re going to have a decent outfit next year.”
While Plymouth and NorthWood end the season, Triton makes the elite cut to state with Warsaw, Bishop Dwenger and 12 other teams from the remaining four regional sites around the state. It’s just the second time the little Class A program has ever been able to make the team cut to The Legends, the last time coming during Rapp’s and Quentyn’s freshman year in 2010 — Quentyn also made the cut alone as a sophomore in 2011 — and the finals make for a fitting bookend for the Trojan mainstays.
“I never would have expected to go back,” said Quentyn. “I was telling the guys all week how fun it was to go to state the first time as a team, and if I could do it all over again, I’d want to go to the state as a team a second time. I sent all the guys a text last night reminding them that we play this course just as much as Warsaw, and we were capable of getting out of here. It just takes one day to shoot a score like this; it wouldn’t matter what we’d shoot tomorrow because it’s all about today. It’s a great feeling to be able to go back.”
“The text he sent kind of pumped us all up. It gave us a clue hat we had a legitimate chance to actually go out and win, especially get to state,” said Rapp. “My freshman year was pretty awesome. I never thought we’d come back, but it makes the experience pretty fun.”
“We talked about that a lot this week, that it would be a shame if Quentyn and Ryan did not end their careers at state, whether it be individually or whether it be as a team,” said Jack Carpenter. “Obviously they would have qualified individually if the team didn’t make it out, but it’s so much more fun to take five guys down there and enjoy the two days, three days that we’re down there. Quentyn and Ryan have been incredible leaders for these guys, supporting them, encouraging them, helping them with different shots when we play our practice rounds. I couldn’t ask for two better kids with better demeanors, better personalities or better leadership skills than those two kids. It’s a great way for them to go out.”
At Stonehenge (Par 71)
Team scores: 1. Warsaw 305 (win on 5th man tiebreaker), 2. Triton 305, 3. Bishop Dwenger 309, 4. Carroll 310, 5. Fairfield 313, 6. NorthWood 314, 7. Columbia City 317, 8. Homestead 317, Penn 318, 10. Mishawaka Marian 319, 11. Northridge 319, 12. Elkhart Memorial 321, 13. Heritage 321, 14. Leo 327, 15. Peru 333, 16. Western 340, 17. Wabash 350, 18. East Noble 351.
Top 5 individuals advancing without a team: 1. Michael Sharp (East Noble) 70, 2. Michael Makris (Marian) 70, 3. Will Erekson (Northridge) 71, 4. Carter Dornseif (Heritage) 71, 5. Stephen Shupert (Carroll) 72.
Low medalist: Jon Schram (Warsaw) 69.
Area individual scores: Tyler Prentkowski (Glenn) 75, Ben Sharff (CMA) 84, Cameron Gurtner (LaVille) 77, Nate Kolter (Plymouth) 79, Ben Schenk (Plymouth) 78.
TRITON (305): Quentyn Carpenter 70, Ryan Rapp 71, Tanner Shepherd 81, Lucas Shafer 83, Greg Music 93.
NORTHWOOD (314): Dylan Gessinger 73, Payton Grubbs 77, Logan Kauffman 80, Ryan Thompson 84, Brayden Glaser 87.