Center Grove might be a prohibitive favorite to win the Boys Golf State Finals, but Columbus North isn’t about to concede the title.
The top-ranked Trojans fired the state’s best regional score Thursday, a 10-under-par 78, to win the Providence Regional at Champions Pointe. The Bull Dogs finished second with a 290.
“I think all the pressure is on Center Grove, but I like what this team is capable of doing,” North coach Doug Bieker said. “At this point, there’s 15 teams that can win a state championship, and we’re one of those 15. There’s no reason this team can’t be with the state champs on Wednesday. I’m going to coach them to win the state championship.”
The state finals begins this morning at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel. The entire field will play another 18 holes Wednesday.
The Bull Dogs’ 290 was the state’s third-best regional score. Besides Center Grove’s 278, Noblesville won the Yorktown Regional with a 288 at The Players Club.
North senior Matt Vorndran’s 67 tied for the second-best regional score in the state.
“Matt’s played super all year,” Bieker said. “Nobody expects a 67 at the regional, but he just got kind of hot at the right time and kept it going and kind of closed it out. I expect similar things out of him. If he and Bryce (Turner) and Spencer (Fairbanks) continue their solid play, I think we’ll be OK.”
Fairbanks and Turner each shot 72 in the regional. Like Vorndran, they are three-year varsity players, and the trio has led the team all season.
Fairbanks is the only Bull Dog with state finals experience. He qualified as an individual as a sophomore.
“I think we’re ready,” Bieker said. “Matt and Spencer and Bryce all played great at the regional and kind of led the way. All of them are capable of doing what Matt did at the regional. I like this team, and I like their chances at getting up on stage (with a top-four finish).”
The three seniors will be joined by sophomores Drew Smith and Henry Kiel. Smith carded a 79 in the regional.
Kiel will replace senior Zachary Schiavello, who had an 86 in the regional.
“Henry has been a big part of our season and struggled a little bit at the end,” Bieker said. “He was close to making (the top five) at conference, he was close at sectional and he was close at regional. I think he deserves a shot, so we’re going to give him a try (today) and try to catch lightning in a bottle. We can go back to Schiavello Wednesday if we need to.”
North’s 292 at Champions Pointe was two shots better than its score in 2014, when it won the state title. Bieker said the course was set up more difficult this year than anytime since they began playing the regional there.
This year’s seniors were freshmen in 2014 with the Bull Dogs won the state title while playing five seniors. Bieker sees at least a little similarity between that team and this one.
“Certainly, there were a lot of seniors on that team,” Bieker said. “This team hasn’t won as much, but I think this team is similar in that they buy into the history of Columbus North, and they understand it. I think they believe in themselves, and that’s a big part of winning it, or at least competing for a state championship. I think that will go a long way toward helping them perform in the next couple of days.”
Boys Golf State Finals
When: Today and Wednesday
Where: Prairie View Golf Club, 7000 Longest Dr., Carmel
Admission: $12 (good for both days)
Teams: Columbus North, Bedford North Lawrence, Carmel, Castle, Cathedral, Center Grove, Evansville North, Fishers, Fort Wayne Carroll, Fort Wayne Dwenger, Homestead, Noblesville, Park Tudor Westfield, Zionsville
North’s first-round tee times:
8:27 a.m.: Henry Kiel
8:36 a.m.: Drew Smith
8:45 a.m.: Bryce Turner
8:54 a.m.: Matt Vorndran
9:03 a.m. Spencer Fairbanks