HENRYVILLE — Luke Schneider and Willy Davis didn’t start out their regional rounds with a bang Thursday morning, but they finished with a flurry.
As a result, the Columbus North senior and junior qualified as individuals to the Boys Golf State Finals.
“It’s for sure nice to go back to the state finals,” North coach Doug Bieker said. “Certainly, our goal was to get there as a team. That didn’t quite happen, but for us to get two guys there, and for these younger guys to see what that experience is going to be like will be helpful in the future.”
The 16th-ranked Bull Dogs finished sixth as a team with a 316 at Champions Pointe. No. 2 Bloomington South (292) and No. 11 Silver Creek (304) finished first and second, and Jasper edged No. 6 Center Grove 306-307 for the third-and-final team-qualifying spot. Floyd Central was fifth with a 313.
That left Schneider, who had carded a 2-over-par 74, and Davis, who put up a 75, to wait a couple of hours to see if their scores would be good enough to put them among the five individuals from non-qualifying teams to make it to state.
Schneider was the third advancer out of that group. He played his final 14 holes in 2-under after being 4-over the first four holes.
“I hit two out-of-bounds balls in my first four holes, so I started off the day really bad, and it almost cost me, but I stuck with it and made it,” Schneider said.
Davis tied for the fourth low indivdiual on a non-advancing team and found himself in a three-way playoff with namesake Will Davis of Whiteland, along with Ian Reed of Greenwood Christian Academy for the final two spots. Starting on the par-4 No. 10, Willy Davis hit his second shot over the green, but chipped on and made his 8-footer for par.
With Reed already having made par, Will Davis needed to make his 6-footer for par to send the playoff to a second hole. But his putt slid past, leaving Reed and Willy Davis as the final two individual qualifiers.
“It was pretty nervous, but I knew that I practiced to put myself into these situations,” Willy Davis said. “I knew I would be ready for it. It was a big ol’ right-to-lefter, a real big breaker. I just went up there and picked a good line, picked a good speed and it just went in.”
“It ‘s what we’ve worked so hard for,” Schneider added. “When it comes down to the wire, you remember that, and it pays off. Willy just hit a huge putt, and all those hours of practice paid off now for both of us, really.”
Schneider and Davis will play in the state finals Tuesday and Wednesday at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel.
“Luke got off to kind of a shaky start and turned it around,” Bieker said. “Willy just kind of played solid all day. Willy played well at the sectional and good enough here at the regional to make it. It was a long wait for him to kind of wait and see if that was going to be good enough, and then for him to make it the way he did in the playoff, he has a lot of mental toughness in him.”
“I feel like I played pretty well,” Davis added. “I had two or three pretty stupid mistakes, but I just cleaned that up, and we’ll see what happens at state.”
Tyler Wilks added an 83 for the Bull Dogs. John Merritt shot 84, and Jack Schiavello had an 88.
Meanwhile, Columbus East finished 14th with a 340. Pierce Arnholt led the Olympinas with a 79, while Carter Greene carded an 80, Ben Luedeke added an 88, Spencer Erfmeier shot 93 and J.T. Kuhlman had a 95.
“We were kind of looking at 335 to 330, but we know we kept showing improvement, and that’s good,” East coach Keith VanDeventer said. “We’ve been playing our best that we’ve played all year here the last couple of weeks, and that’s encouraging.”
Two other area golfers played as individuals. Trinity Lutheran’s Jacob Sabotin carded an 83, and Jennings County’s Jake Grider had a 97.