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Champion Bull Dogs’ duo erase disappointment together

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Columbus North's Michael VanDeventer, left, and Christian Fairbanks, pictured Tuesday, June 24, 2014, are the Republic's co-all-area golfers of the year.
Columbus North's Michael VanDeventer, left, and Christian Fairbanks, pictured Tuesday, June 24, 2014, are the Republic's co-all-area golfers of the year.

Unlike Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed, co-state champion golfers Michael VanDeventer and Christian Fair-banks don’t have a clandestine meeting planned at The Legends Golf Course in Franklin to break their tie.

“We’re both going to have our pictures on the wall at Columbus North,” VanDeventer said. “Or maybe we will Rock-Paper-Scissors for it.”

Fairbanks and VanDeventer made history on June 18 at The Legends by becoming the first co-champions in the 78-year history of the Indiana High School Athletic Association Boys Golf State Finals.

Both shot 141 in leading Columbus North to its first team championship in 80 years. The IHSAA, for the first time, asked the two if they wanted to share the title or have a playoff. A playoff always had decided the individual champion when there was a tie.

They decided to share the title.

“For two young kids, who are both 18, to have the character to be able to know what that was going to mean at that moment, I can’t say enough about those two,” said Columbus North coach Doug Bieker. “They were not wanting to take away from the enjoyment of a team championship.”

In keeping with that decision, Fairbanks and VanDeventer are the 2014 Republic Co-Athletes of the Year for boys golf.

“It’s hard to believe it’s over (at North) for those two,” Bieker said. “It has been a great ride and a lot of hard work. They did a lot of it on their own.

“Wow, they are just terrific young men. I was fortunate and blessed to have them play for Columbus North. They are going to be missed. I can’t wait to see what they do in their futures in golf and outside of golf.”

If VanDeventer has to share honors with Fairbanks, he might have himself to blame. Fairbanks said his friend was partially responsible for his good run of golf at the end of the season.

“Mentally, I had points where I got stronger,” said Fairbanks, who is headed to Indiana University on a golf scholarship. “My teammates helped me believe in myself.

“And we were playing a nine-hole match against Greensburg when I left a putt 10-foot short.”

Fairbanks was starting to have a meltdown when VanDeventer, who has a golf scholarship to Ball State, stepped forward.

“Normally in matches, we don’t play together,” VanDeventer said. “But we were at Greensburg. We had gotten off to a rough start, and I figured I should say something. I just said, ‘Getting mad at yourself isn’t going to help.’”

The advice stuck and Fairbanks handled his emotions through the rest of the season and the playoffs.

So did all the Bull Dogs.

“We were all pretty relaxed,” VanDeventer said. “We had gone through some (inner-squad) adversity, but everyone got on the same page again.”

Considering the pressure was on North, which had the first-day lead the previous three seasons but finished second twice and fourth overall, it would have been natural for the Bull Dogs to be tight.

“I really wasn’t,” VanDeventer said. “I did some fishing on Monday night before the tournament and caught quite a few bass.”

When it came time to tee it up at the state tournament, North caught the biggest fish of all.

“All the preparation in the offseason, in-season, all came together over a two-day period,” Fairbanks said. “We erased the past disappointments.

“I’m glad it happened the way it did.”

Both agreed that it was better to finish with a state championship than perhaps winning the title as freshmen and then failing to get another championship.

“It made us want to work hard,” Fairbanks said. “For four years we had the hardest-working team on and off the course. We all wanted to get better so badly.”

The state tournament their senior year always will be a memory they will cherish. “Hopefully, there will be bigger and better things for me and Christian,” VanDeventer said. “But hopefully we will be able to recall everything about this.”

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