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Regional ruckus

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Union County’s Cody Peters chips a shot onto the green at Liberty Country Club in the Patriots’ dual with Northeastern on April 24. Peters and his teammates will tee off at today’s IHSAA regional meet, following a runner-up finish at Monday’s sectional.
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Connersville sophomore Jonah Graham points to his position on the leaderboard at the IHSAA sectional meet, Monday afternoon at Forest Hills Country Club in Richmond. Graham finished second at the meet as an individual, qualifying him to advance to the regional meet, today in Yorktown.
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Union County’s Cameron Woods watches a putt crawl toward the cup in a conference meet against Northeastern, played at Liberty Country Club on April 24. Woods and the Patriots finished second at Monday’s sectional meet, qualifying themto play in the regional meet for a second straight year.

By GRADY TATE - gtate@newsexaminer.com

Confidence is high going into the Indiana High School Athletic Association regional boys golf tournament for the Union County Patriots and Connersville’s Jonah Graham.

Why shouldn’t it be?

After all, the Patriots are coming off a runner-up finish at Monday’s sectional meet in Richmond, and are headed to their second consecutive regional as a team.

And Graham?

Well, all he did was shoot an 80 on one of the toughest courses in the area (Forest Hills), the second-best score among all 50 golfers at the meet, trailing only Ohio State University recruit Jake Miller (who was playing on his home course).

So there is plenty of reason to be optimistic, prior to today’s regional tee times.

Once the clubs come out of the bag, however, a dose of reality might set in.

Arguably the most loaded regional in the entire state, today’s meet at The Player’s Club will feature former state championship teams and quite possibly, the next one as well.

It’s not always easy to make comparisons between regional qualifying teams, based solely on sectional scores, since six different sectionals (from different locations) are feeding into today’s meet.

That means that a lower team score from one sectional might not hold as much weight against a higher score from another.

For instance, how does Hickory Hills stack up against Forest Hills, as far as difficulty goes? Which greens are faster, Timber Ridge or Maple Creek? Are the fairways tighter at Purgatory or Hawk’s Tail?

These are the questions that should find answers today, when golfers from all of those sectional sites gather in Yorktown.

For what it’s worth, Indianapolis Cathedral comes in with the lowest sectional score, the Fighting Irish winning at Maple Creek with a 285. Noblesville is the only other team entering the regional with a sub-300 sectional score, as they earned a 293 at Purgatory.

It’s probably no coincidence then, that those two teams finished first and third, respectively, at last year’s regional. Between them was state runner-up Hamilton Southeastern, the Royals coming into the regional with the third-best sectional score on Monday, a 305 at Purgatory.

For the Union County five — Cody Peters, Tyler Osborne, Cameron Woods, Luke Yamashiro and Nick Orr — therefore, earning a top three spot, while always a possibility, would take a Herculean effort.

“The teams are so strong at this regional, it would probably be more likely that an individual effort gets out,” Union County head coach Tony Gulley said. “And to do that, that individual would have to be extremely hot. It’s going to take pretty much a perfect round.”

Indeed, for Graham, life won’t be easy teeing off in the individual ranks. The Connersville sophomore will be tasked with climbing over several peers that posted lower sectional scores.

There is a couple of things working in his favor, however.

First, he was the top individual (not connected with an advancing team) from his own sectional, meaning that climb won’t be as high.

And second ... well, don’t forget that confidence thing.

“I’m just really excited to have the opportunity to continue playing,” he said, before adding four big words with a slight grin, “I’m not done yet.”

His coach also believes that something extraordinary could happen.

“This is going to be a great experience for Jonah, knowing that he is only a sophomore,” Jeff Martin said. “He’s played that course once this year, and came out with an 85. I think this is a course that he can really score well on, so I am looking forward to seeing how well he does.”

The regional is set for an 8 a.m. start. Admission is free.

 

2019 IHSAA REGIONAL BOYS GOLF

Where — The Player’s Club, 6610 W River Rd, Yorktown.

When — Today beginning at 8 a.m.

Participating teams (sectional score) — From Richmond sectional (Forest Hills Country Club): Richmond (329), Union County (338), Centerville (352). From Greenfield-Central sectional (Hawk’s Tail Golf Club): New Castle (295), New Palestine (315), Greenfield-Central (318). From Indianapolis Cathedral sectional (Maple Creek Golf Club): Indianapolis Cathedral (285), Heritage Christian (311), Indianapolis Chatard (351). From Monroe Central sectional (Hickory Hills): Yorktown (315), Wapahani (330), Muncie Central (330). From Norwell sectional (Timber Ridge): Eastbrook (331), Norwell (334), Bellmont (336). From Noblesville sectional (Purgatory): Noblesville (293), Hamilton Southeastern (305), Tipton (309).

Local individual participating — Jonah Graham, Connersville.

At stake — Top 3 teams -AND- Top 5 low individuals (excluding those individuals who advance with a team) will advance to the state championship meet on Tuesday and Wednesday (ties for 5th place must be played off in order to advance). The state finals will be played at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel.

Admission — Free.