Burning to return

On one hand, Columbus North’s seventh-place regional finish last season seemed like a far cry from the top-three placing needed to qualify for the Boys Golf State Finals.

On the other hand, the Bull Dogs were only five shots out of third place. With three of their top four players returning, plus the addition of some talented freshmen, they hope to return to state.

“Things have been pretty good so far,” North coach Doug Bieker said. “We have a good, large group of new kids. Some will potentially help us right away, and some may be a year off.”

Juniors Spencer Fairbanks qualified for state as an individual last season and tied for 20th place. Fellow juniors Matt Vorndran and Bryce Turner also were varsity players.

All three of those golfers played in multiple tournaments last summer and fall.

“I think they have come out and maybe felt the pressure from some of the guys that you wouldn’t expect,” Bieker said. “I think they’ve certainly been surprised by the freshmen.”

Two of those freshmen, Drew Smith and Henry Kiel, could make an immediate impact. Both have played on junior golf tours and are tournament tested.

Junior Zac Schiavello played a couple varsity matches last season. Senior Jared Imlay, who has signed to play at Cincinnati Christian, also played some varsity.

“Jared is a great athlete,” Bieker said. “He’s swam for four years and ran cross country this year and almost made the team that ran at state. He’s just worked hard at everything he’s done, and hopefully, it will all come together for him and he’ll help contribute this year.”

Bieker kept 17 golfers on the team this season, including six freshmen. That will bode will for the future after this year’s large class of juniors graduates.

The Bull Dogs, who lost all five varsity players from their state championship 2014 squad, finished third in Conference Indiana and second in the Greensburg Sectional last season before taking seventh in the Providence Regional.

“That regional is always difficult,” Bieker said. “It will be tough to make it to the (state) finals, but I like our chances. If you make it there, anything can happen, as Spencer proved last year.”

At a glance

Columbus North

2016 boys golf schedule

Saturday;at Seymour Invitational;9 a.m.

April 9;Hall of Fame at Peru;10 a.m.

April 13;at Jennings County (with Providence);5 p.m.

April 14;at Franklin Central;4:30 p.m.

April 16;at Warsaw Invitational;11 a.m.

April 23;at Noblesville Invitational;11 a.m.

April 25;at Bloomington South;4 p.m.

April 30;at Bedford North Lawrence Invitational;8:30 a.m.

May 2;Bloomington North;4 p.m.

May 5;at Columbus East;4 p.m.

May 7;Spring Preview at Prairie View;1 p.m.

May 11;at New Palestine (with Shelbyville);4:30 p.m.

May 14;at Zionsville Sollman Invitational;8:30 a.m.

May 16;Conference Indiana at Smock;10 a.m.

May 17;Seymour;4:30 p.m.

May 24;at Greensburg;4 p.m.

May 26;Columbus East;4 p.m.

May 28;at Providence Invitational;1 p.m.

June 1;at Shelbyville Invitational;8 a.m.

Author photo
Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.