After finishing fourth in the state finals for the second year in a row, the Bishop Dwenger boys golf team graduated four NCAA Division I players last summer. After four consecutive trips to state, everyone expected the Saints would finally have to rebuild.
Well, that was quick! The Saints did a lot more reloading than they did rebuilding.
The Saints won the Summit Athletic Conference again, followed by the sectional and last week won their second regional title in three years. Along with Homestead and Carroll, Bishop Dwenger will represent Fort Wayne in the state finals at Prairie View Golf Club with tee times for the two-day event starting at 8 a.m., Tuesday. Canterbury's Michael Brothers is the area's only individual player.
"I think we came in this year not sure of how we were going to do, but we've played solid the entire year and I'm really proud of all the guys," Bishop Dwenger's Luke Miller said. "I think it's really nice to see our work paying off here."
Miller, a junior, is the only player returning from last year's team, and he played No. 5 in last year's five-man lineup. He was the medalist in the Warsaw Regional, edging teammate Logan Ryan in a playoff. This year's roster also includes Tyler Fink, Johnathan Filler and Ariel DeLuna.
"Coming into the year thinking we may not make it out of sectionals and now we've won regionals and we're going to state, that's a pretty good feeling," Miller said. "It's definitely a different feeling, but it's good to have a young team out here and we're doing some good things. I think everybody has done well this year and is practicing a lot on our own. I think if we keep playing solid we can have a good run at state."
But what will he tell his teammates about playing at state? After all, he's the only one who has been there and played under those heightened circumstances.
"It's the same thing," Miller said. "Like Coach (Dave) Scudder likes to say, the course is going to shoot 72, so don't try to go out there and be someone else. I think that's where people struggle. Just do what you can and it's just a golf course. It's fun that we get to go play some more as a team."
A 32-year veteran, Scudder said that many players think they have to raise their level of play to match the big stage, but that's the wrong approach.
"Just try to stay away from double bogeys," Scudder said. "If you can go around that golf course and avoid double bogies you're going to play pretty well, and that's the thing that kids don't seem to understand. You have to stay away from big numbers because big numbers will kill you at that golf course."
Homestead will be represented by Garrett Willis, Ellis Yoder, Matthew Hope, Cameron Cook and Austin Render, wile the Carroll players are Xavier Walden, Cam Boyce, Cayden Yourdon, Nick Ramsey and Caleb Waugh.
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