With no squad making it to the state finals last year after several consecutive seasons of going, the boys’ county golf teams are back and ready to remedy that situation.
No team had been to the state finals in as many consecutive years in recent history than the Avon Orioles. Last season’s shocking defeat at the Center Grove regional served as an inspiration for preparation.
“Missing state last year by a shot has really motivated this group,” Avon coach Tom Maples said. “I think they’re more focused and more determined than ever. I think it was a bit of a wake-up call — not that they needed that because these kids have tons of experience and they know how humbling this game can be. I certainly think it has been a huge motivator this off season.”
Avon hopes to be in contention for county and conference titles, but their main aspiration this season is to return to the state tournament.
“Any time you tee it up, the expectation is to compete at your highest level and if we can do that we’ll have a very successful season,” Maples said. “We hope to do that at county, conference, and sectional. Beyond that, the goal is simply to survive and advance and hang around long enough to have a chance that second day at state. Medaling at state is for sure a goal, and if we’re good enough on those two days we hope they’re blue medals around our necks.”
Returning to help the Orioles achieve those lofty standards are Keegan McKinney, Mark Whipple, and Brad Patz, who all come back with experience gained not only from high school play, but also Junior Golf across the country.
“These kids are golfers,” Maples said. “They have a love and passion for this game. They’ll bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to our team this year that will be counted on a great deal.”