Bull Dogs 3rd in tri match

FRANKLIN — Still a month away yet, but the top-ranked Center Grove golfers are keeping their eyes on the ultimate prize — an IHSAA boys golf state championship.

The Trojans were runners-up a year ago and third in 2015.

Competing in an 18-hole, three-team match Wednesday at Hillview Country Club, Center Grove came home with a team score of 294, besting No. 19 and host Franklin (301) and No. 7 Columbus North (305).

Earning medalist honors was Center Grove junior Noah Gillard, who carded a 4-under-par 68. He was followed by teammate Sam Jean and Franklin juniors Javan Johnson and Matt Jordan and North’s Matt Vorndran, all of whom shot 74.

Gillard, who finished second overall at last year’s state finals, said the team is in a good position to move forward.

“I love the youth that we have,” Center Grove coach Matt Rodman said. “Also we have some veteran leaders on this team with Noah, Ethan (Shepherd) and Sam but we definitely have a lot of good sophomores and freshmen as well.

“Pushing through the schedule is something we’ve really been working on and talking about during the last couple weeks of practice of just grinding. Even on a day when you don’t feel it, you’ve got to come out there and grind to put up a good number and try to avoid the mistakes.”

Shepherd, Luke DeHaven and Alex Heck all came in with scores of 76 for the Trojans.

For second-place Franklin, sophomore Blake McIntyre fired a 76, senior Kade Edwards a 77 and sophomore Emerson Downing an 80.

For North, seniors Spencer Fairbanks and Bryce Turner finished with a 76 and 77, respectively, while Drew Smith had a 78. Jonathan Ward added an 81, and Zachary Schiavello had an 82.

Columbus North coach Doug Bieker said he likes where his team is right now.

“I think we’re moving in the right direction,” Bieker said.” Our top five or six have really stepped up in the last week and a half. I think we’re capable of pushing a lot of teams. They definitely have the desire to get back to the state finals and once you’re there, anything can happen.”

Both Center Grove and Columbus North will be at the State Preview tournament on Saturday at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel.