SEYMOUR — The opening 18-hole tournament of 2017 gives players and coaches an early idea of where they stand before getting into the thick of their schedules.
For the Columbus North and Columbus East boys golf teams, while there’s room for improvement, they have a lot to look forward to this spring.
At the Seymour Invitational, hosted by Shadowood Golf Course, three teams ranked in the top 20 preseason poll teed it up on the crisp morning.
Led by overall medalist Jalen Hodges’ 3-over-par 75, No. 13 Bedford North Lawrence claimed the team title with a 314. No. 16 North finished runner-up with a 316, while East rounded out the top three with 327.
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Bedford’s “B” team placed fourth with a 350, followed by No. 17 Jasper (357), Seymour and Bloomington North (360), Brownstown Central (388), Jennings County (402) and Batesville (404).
The Bull Dogs’ Spencer Fairbanks carded 76, shooting 38 on both the front and back nine holes, for second individually, one shot behind Hodges.
“I’m proud of Spencer,” North coach Doug Bieker said. “He finished well and battled back from the middle of the round.”
North’s Bryce Turner tied for third with East’s Thomas Ruch at 78s. The Bull Dogs’ Henry Kiel shot 79 to finish in a five-way tie for fifth, while Matt Vorndran (83) and Drew Smith (84) completed North’s scores.
“I think they did OK,” Bieker said. “I would say they’re disappointed with how they’re finished. I thought a couple guys would do a little better than they did, but it’s early in the season. We’re working through some things.”
Bieker said that the first tournament of the season helps get the butterflies out.
“We have some things to work on,” Bieker said. “You don’t want to lose, but the chances of us winning everything are small. We made some big numbers. Our 4 and 5 guys both made an 8. They make 6s, and we win.
“All five of us could have found one or two better strokes, but those numbers jump out at you,” he added. “We can’t make those big mistakes. The three seniors have to do better, and I think they will.”
Following Ruch’s low score for East, Derek Alexander came in with a 78, and Mark Mayhew totaled 84. Adrian Adams completed the Olympians’ scoring with 85, and Nathan Cesarski shot 104.
“Seymour and Shadowood put on a nice tournament,” East coach Tom LaBarbera said. “With Bedford, Jasper and Columbus North all ranked, we get to play here and see where we stack up. We’re a little bit behind, but not that far.”
For the Olympians, the invitational also gave the team a better idea where they need improvement.
“You kind of look at each individual player and see the deficiencies,” LaBarbera said. “This is kind of the starting point of the season. I saw some good things.
“The two upperclassmen played about where I thought they would, and I was pleased with their results,” he added. “Even though Nathan and Mark played last year, they’re still kind of young players. I saw some areas where we need to improve on mental focus, and that will improve as the season goes on.”
Considering the time of year, LaBarbera said the course played well.
“For this time of the year, the course was probably in better shape than in years past,” he said. “Our mistakes had nothing to do with the weather or course. We had some big numbers, and that’s always the problem early in the season.”
Austin Roscoe led Jennings with 90. Bryce Kirchner carded a 99, while Justin Gasper added a 103, Hunter Conrad shot 110 and Adam Leach had a 112.