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High School Sports

April 1, 2014

HIGH SCHOOL BOYS’ GOLF PREVIEW: Providence eyes return to state

Allender, Crone to lead young Pioneers

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Entering his fifth season as the Providence boys’ golf coach, Ken Allender will lead one of the youngest teams in his Pioneer tenure.

But he also has one of the most talented squads in his career.

Allender hopes that talent will continue to develop this season and result in a return trip to the IHSAA State Finals June 17-18 at The Legends Golf Club in Franklin.

“From a class standpoint, we’re a little younger than in the past,” said Allender, whose team came up short of reaching state last season after making five consecutive trips to Legends from 2008-2012. “Our potential is going to be really, really good. If we can develop, we could get back to state.”

The Pioneers’ top three players should be their foundation. Providence will be led by its No. 1 player, junior Mitchell Allender.

The coach’s son has been to state the past two seasons, qualifying last year as an individual. Mitchell Allender finished 24th at state last season with a two-round score of 147 (3-over-par).

The Pioneers’ other two returning letterwinners are sophomores Kevin Crone and Max Leist. Crone showed his potential several times last season, which included a fourth-place finish in the Providence Sectional at Covered Bridge Golf Club with a 2-over 74.

Coach Allender says a big factor in his team getting back to state is finding a No. 4 golfer who can consistently shoot in the low to mid 70s. He will look to three players to try to be that fourth scorer in seniors Erich Day and Austin Happel and junior Evan Wilson. Freshman Ben Arnson, who is currently injured, could play into the No. 4 mix once he gets healthy.

Coach Allender thinks his team must shoot a team score between 302 and 306 at the Providence Regional on Thursday, June 12 at Champions Pointe Golf Club in Memphis to have a chance to qualify for state. The top three teams at regional will advance to state.

“A lot will depend on our No. 4 golfer,” Ken Allender said. “Our top scorers must go lower than they did in the past. Mitchell and Kevin must get around even-par. If we put up a 306, I’ll take our chances. But I would feel better with a 302 or 303.”

A challenging regular-season schedule should prepare Providence for the postseason.

The 18th-ranked Pioneers will compete in nine 18-hole invitational tournaments with some of them featuring several top-20 teams. Those tournaments include the Fuzzy Zoeller Invitational next Saturday at Champions Pointe, the Legends Spring Preview on Saturday, April 19 and the New Castle Invitational on Saturday, May 24.

Providence’s most important regular-season tourney will be its own tournament, which is the Legends of Providence Invitational on Saturday, May 31 at Champions Pointe.

“It could be one of the best invitationals in the state. We have a lot of college scouts who come to watch our invitational,” Ken Allender said. “We’ve tried to increase the level of competition in our schedule.”

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