By KEVIN HARRIS
It is a prestigious award that the Floyd Central boys’ golf team tries to capture each season — the IHSAA state championship trophy.
Starting on Tuesday at The Legends Golf Club, the third-ranked Highlanders will attempt to win their third state title at the two-day IHSAA State Finals. Floyd Central, which won back-to-back state championships in 2006 and 2007, will be making its fifth consecutive appearance in the state finals.
The Highlanders won the Providence Sectional last Monday at Covered Bridge Golf Club, followed by a second-place finish in the Providence Regional last Thursday at Champions Pointe Golf Club.
Floyd Central coach Mike Cason thinks his players have the potential to win the state championship and can contend with top-ranked Columbus North. The Bull Dogs won the Providence Regional last week, but they did finish second to the Highlanders in the Legends of Providence Invitational on May 25 at Champions Pointe.
“I think we’ve got a really good shot at it — as good of a shot as any team in the state,” Cason said. “We know we can compete with Columbus North and they’ve been No. 1 all year. I’m very optimistic.
“[The Highlanders] want to win the state tournament really bad. I haven’t stressed that this year. I’ve just let them kind of play. But when they get there, they’re going to be pretty darn hungry.”
Highlander senior Alex Beyer is confident that he and his teammates can claim the state title. But he thinks the team must chip and putt better if it is to achieve the ultimate goal in the state.
“For us to have a good, solid chance, we have to improve our putting and short game. I think our team as a whole is striking the ball better than ever,” Beyer said. “We just need to stay consistent and stay away from big numbers.
“If we can putt and chip and play smart, I think we’ve got a really good chance.”
State finals experience should be on Floyd Central’s side this week. Highlander senior Daniel Shepard will be playing in his fourth straight state finals. Fellow FC senior Devin Jenkins and Highlander junior Jack Sparrow each will be participating in the state finals for the third consecutive season. They will be joined in the Highlanders’ quintet by Beyer and junior Connor Welch, as both players will be playing in state for the first time.
“Experience is always good,” Cason said. “We always do well up there. Everything is kind of pointing in our
direction I think.”
Floyd Central would like to forget its last trip to Legends. On April 20 in wet and windy conditions with temperatures in the 40s, the Highlanders finished a disappointing ninth at the Legends Spring Preview with a team score of 331. Jenkins was the only Floyd Central golfer to shoot in the 70s with a 76.
But Beyer believes the Highlanders have improved their games since the spring preview.
“At the spring preview, there was awful weather. In the early part of the season, the team as a whole was kind of struggling, but I think we got it back on track now. We‘ve improved so much since then,” Beyer said. “We always would like to redeem ourselves, especially after a day like that at the spring preview.”
One area individual who will join the Highlanders at state is Providence’s Mitchell Allender. The sophomore shot a 74 at regional to earn one of the top five spots on non-advancing teams for the state finals. Allender played at state last year with his entire team, firing a first-round 83.
“I think [a two-round score of] 150 or less is a pretty realistic score for him,” said Pioneers’ coach Ken Allender, who also is Mitchell’s father. “He plays that golf course really well. It’s just a matter of if he can get his putter going. He’s brought his trajectory down a little bit from last year. When he was up there at state last year, he shot an 83, so he didn’t play bad. I think he’ll do fine.”
IHSAA STATE FINALS
TUESDAY & WEDNESDAY
At The Legends of Indiana Golf Club, Franklin
TUESDAY’S TEE TIMES
8:18 a.m. — Mitchell Allender, Providence (10th tee).
8:27 a.m. — Connor Welch, Floyd Central (1st tee).
8:36 a.m. — Jack Sparrow, Floyd Central (1st).
8:45 a.m. — Alex Beyer, Floyd Central (1st).
8:54 a.m. — Daniel Shepherd, Floyd Central (1st).
9:03 a.m. — Devin Jenkins, Floyd Central (1st).