State golf finals
When: Today (7:30 a.m. first tee time) and Wednesday
Where: The Legends of Indiana, Franklin
Area teams: Warsaw, Bishop Dwenger
Area individuals: East Noble’s Michael Sharp, Huntington North’s Jordan Sweet, Bellmont’s Chase Ellsworth
Advancement to second round: Top nine teams; any team within 12 strokes of the lead; top nine individuals
Tyler Ostrom won the IHSAA’s state individual championship last year – he is one of four golfers from northeast Indiana to accomplish the feat – but he didn’t feel like a different person with a target affixed firmly on his back.
“I haven’t really worried about it too much or felt too much pressure,” said the Warsaw senior. “Last year is over and it doesn’t really matter anymore. I’m just worried about the present and what happens now.”
“Now” includes a return trip to the state finals for the Tigers, who finished seventh last year.
The first round of the finals is today at The Legends of Indiana in Franklin, where Ostrom had a two-day total of 7-under 137 last year.
This time, Ostrom is hoping to hoist the team-championship trophy, something the Tigers have done only once, in 2005, despite qualifying for the finals seven times in the last nine years.
“I don’t really worry about individual stuff too much. I just want to help out the team as much as possible and make sure we advance and do as well as we can,” said Ostrom, who joined Elmhurst’s Fred Link (1941), Huntington North’s Jon Oliver (1997) and Columbia City’s Mike Schumaker (2000) as state medalists from the area.
This year, the finals also include Bishop Dwenger, which is there for the second time in three years, as well as area individuals Michael Sharp of East Noble, Jordan Sweet of Huntington North and Chase Ellsworth of Bellmont.
“(The Legends) is a links-style course, which has less trees than (our regional site of) Orchard Ridge Country Club. The greens are fast. It’s more like Noble Hawk, which is my home course,” said Sharp, a sophomore, who tied for fifth last year at 3-over.
Warsaw comes in with a regional score of 308 – the Tigers won at Orchard Ridge – while Bishop Dwenger was second there with a 322.
“We need to practice on our short game really hard because that’s the key to success,” Bishop Dwenger’s Jake Leonard said.
Ball State-bound Ostrom shot a 4-over 75 at Orchard Ridge, one stroke back of Sharp and Lakeland’s Spencer Mortola, who was the medalist by virtue of a playoff. His first-round, 9-under 63 at the state finals last year tied a state finals and course record.
“Last year, it wasn’t about (being an) individual at all. I wanted the team to win,” said Ostrom, who will be joined today by teammates Jon Schram, Tim Ahlersmeyer, Bennett Hollar and Jonny Hollar.
“We have another really great team this year and if we all put it together, we have a really great chance at winning. But, obviously, there are a lot of teams down there that want to do the same thing. We just have to put it all together (today) and Wednesday.”
Only three teams from northeast Indiana have won the state title – Fort Wayne Central Catholic in 1959, Northrop in 1984 and Warsaw – and the tournament has taken place since 1932.