By Jake Thompson
GREENWOOD — With two varsity players out for Saturday’s invitational at Center Grove, Plainfield golf coach Jon Utterback went into the match with tempered expectations.
Add into the equation high winds and chilly temperatures and that further clouded the possible outcome.
But even with all of those variables, Plainfield stayed mentally strong and fought through everything to finish second in the 12-team tournament, one stroke shy of first place, No. 10-ranked Evansville Memorial.
“I’ll be honest, I was very, very happy and a bit surprised,” Utterback said. “With the conditions and guys that had not done this before on that stage with that many teams, in those situations, you have every reason to collapse and they just didn’t. As a coach that was very cool to watch.”
Plainfield’s squad of Grant Beanblossom (76), Johnny Gulley (78), Dylan Holsclaw (81) and Kyler Nichols (86) combined for a 321.
Beanblossom tied four others for second place, missing individual medalist honors by a stroke.
“Grant has been working his tail off all the offseason,” Utterback said of Beanblossom’s performance. “I am just very happy for him and he has immersed himself in golf and I think it started clicking for him.”
Kyle Lees (105) shot a big number, but Utterback was proud of his effort after meeting together on the course.
“I told him he could go forward and take something positive from this performance and he buckled down and did that,” Utterback said. “That was the first thing we talked about as a team afterward and I was very proud of the way he finished his round.”
This is a course the Quakers could see again in regional action and Utterback was pleased with the way his young team responded to the conditions that surrounded his team heading into the day.
“When we got on the bus, the guys were looking at each other like, one stroke, just one stroke and everybody looked at each other and thought I had one stroke I could have gotten,” he said. “I like the fact the guys were chippy about losing it. That’s something I just love now that they understand that’s what it’s all about.”
For the Avon Orioles, this trip was a bit like returning to the scene of the crime as this was the course that ended their six-season run to the state tournament last season in regional play.
“It’s hard not to have fresh on your mind as we travelled to Hickory Stick for the first time since that day,” Avon coach Tom Maples said. “These guys want to redeem themselves, but it’s hard to have too much ill will because we’ve had so much success at that place over the years. There are definitely a lot more good memories than the one bad day last June.”
Avon’s team of Keegan McKinney (76), Joe Floreancig (80), Brad Patz (83) and Luke Berger (88) combined for a 327, seven strokes off the winner. Brian Joswick finished with an 89.
McKinney also tied for second with Beanblossom and two others, but was not pleased with his performance according to his coach.
“He’s solid but if you ask him, he’s not happy with the first two invites’ results,” Maples said. “It’s so early and I’m not to uptight about it.”
Avon was without Mark Whipple, who won this tournament last season with a 71.
“That’s a huge hit when you take a kid out of our lineup that’s capable of shooting the numbers he does,” Maples said.