By Jake Thompson
FRANKLIN — Avon boys’ golf coach Tom Maples says the Orioles seem to have a “magic number” when it comes to state tournament finishes.
After holding down fourth place following a solid first day of play at the 77th annual boys’ golf state finals, the Avon Orioles finished the tournament in a very familiar position, sixth.
Of Avon’s seven trips to the state finals, the Orioles have taken sixth four times. Avon won the state championship in 2008-09 while finishing as the runner-up in ‘07-08 and once failed to make the cut.
Avon carded a two-day total 594, just three strokes away from a fourth-place finish that would have given the team a medal.
“What really hurts with all of these sixth-place finishes is you stand here every year and watch the teams who get up on the medal stand after talking about what an honor it is to be up there at the end of the year and we were three shots away from the medals,” Maples said. “That hurts.”
While Avon played well, other teams just performed better.
Westfield (575) won, Columbus North (577) took second, and Floyd Central (580) placed third. All three of those teams broke the previous 36-hole state record (587) set by Avon (2009) and Richmond (‘03). Noblesville (592) placed fifth and tied the 18-hole state record on the second day, carding a 283.
Keegan McKinney finished seventh overall and took an individual medal, leading the Orioles with a two-under par 142.
“I did play pretty solid and I liked coming in the top 10 without having my best and so that’s definitely a confidence booster,” McKinney said. “I tried to hang around and played a pretty solid back nine today.”
Mark Whipple finished even par (144), while Joe Floreancig (155), Brad Patz (156), and Luke Berger (158) made up the rest of the Oriole’s scoring.
Patz, a senior, took a very special honor as he was presented the Fred A. Keesling Mental Attitude Award. He finished his academic career with a 4.87 GPA and graduated seventh out of a class of 589.
“It’s just really good to work hard and see that work pay off, although sometimes that doesn’t really happen in golf,” Patz said. “I wasn’t expecting to get it, but I knew I had a good chance. I’ve been working really hard the past few years to put myself in the best position possible and I’m just really glad that I got it.”
In the 2008-09 season, Patz’s sister, Breanna, was given the same award for her performance in the classroom and on the golf course.
“It’s awesome to see him up there,” Breanna said. “We’ve always been a family to keep our goals up on a mirror. I know that since I got it, he’d had that up there for himself. It’s pretty special to watch him to do that.”
Avon loses McKinney, Whipple and Patz next season from a team that was determined to leave a lasting legacy. Following wins at county, conference, two invitationals, sectional and regional, along with their state finals finish, it’s safe to say the trio accomplished their goal.
“At midseason, we talked a bit about how they wanted to be remembered, about leaving a mark on this program and they stopped to think about it,” Maples said. “I told them I wanted it, but I wanted it for them. They left their mark. Every group as seniors leaves an impact one way or another, but these guys were awfully special for me as they were the first group of freshman I’d coached and they will be missed.”