WARSAW — The name of the game may be to survive and advance, but winning is just more fun.
NorthWood’s boys golf team carded a 305 for the team championship, while John Glenn’s Tyler Prentkowski won a two-hole playoff for the low medal at the Warsaw Boys Golf Regional Thursday at Stonehenge Golf Club.
Both Prentkowski and NorthWood head coach Brad Duerksen admit that championships weren’t necessarily at the forefront of their minds headed into Thursday’s regional but rather advancement to the state finals next Tuesday in Franklin. Winning just made the experience more fun.
“It feels good,” said Prenktowski. “My goal was just to make it out to state this year. Winning regionals is just the cherry on top.”
“It feels awesome. I feel like we’re on cloud nine,” said Duerksen. “Our goal was to create a little NorthWood history today and make it to state. Winning this thing is awesome.”
Buoyed by a strong 34 at the turn, Prenktowski turned in a 71 for the round, but it wasn’t quite good enough to guarantee low medalist honors. He first had to beat Canterbury’s Michael Brothers in a playoff for the individual championship.
After both parred No. 10 at Stonehenge, Brothers gave Prentkowski a little help on 11 when he hit into the water on his second shot. Prentkowski laid up just outside the green, chipped on and then two-putted for the title, to the applause of the gallery of friends and teammates looking on.
“When he hit it in the water, I just wanted to put it on the green,” said Prentkowski. “My second shot came up a little short; I left myself with an uphill chip. I couldn’t get up and down, but it worked.”
The regional title was just the latest feather in the Glenn senior’s cap, as he added Thursday’s hardware to last week’s low medal at the Riley Sectional, in addition to low medalist honors at the Whitko Invitational, the Marshall County Golf Meet and the Northern State Conference Championships earlier this year all while setting a record for low average for Glenn with a 36 for the season.
“He was runner-up in sectional the last two years, and he finally won the sectional this year. Everything is just building to a little peak here,” said Glenn head coach Randy Schmeltz. “His ultimate goal was to get to the state finals, and winning here today in a playoff just makes it a little extra special. Tyler is an exceptional golfer, an exceptional young man, and I’m really looking forward to going down to the state finals and seeing what he can do down there.”
Meanwhile, Thursday’s team championship was the first-ever regional title for NorthWood, as well as the program’s first team state berth after narrowly missing the top three cut by five strokes last season. It was also a bit of a reprisal after losing out to Northridge by one stroke for the championship at the Fairfield Sectional last week.
“We lost sectional; we were up by about seven strokes with three holes to play, and we kind of fell apart and lost by one. We were glad to advance to regional, but it hurt a little bit not winning that, so coming here and playing awesome… it feels amazing to win it all. I couldn’t be happier for these guys,” Duerksen said.
Brayden Glaser carded 73 to lead the Panthers, Alec Dutkowski and Logan Kauffman both shot 75, Matthew Ely carded 82, and Hayden Klotz was close behind with an 83 for NorthWood’s fifth man score as the Panthers beat out runner-up Fort Wayne Dwenger by three strokes.
“Brady Klotz and I — my assistant who deserves a lot of credit — we kind of put the number at 305,” said Duerksen. “We thought we’d be safe getting out at 305, 308, but to win it at 305 is great.
“We were confident coming in we could get out, and we knew if we played to our potential we could win it.”
Behind Prentkowski, Glenn got a 90 from Michael Schmeltz, a 93 from Austen Hayes, a 98 from Christian Jaske, and Samuel Newhart’s 115. The team thus closes out a strong season, which saw championships at the Marshall County and NSC Meet as well as a very respectable 16-4 nine-hole match record.
“They came back and they played well on the second nine. They hung in there; they didn’t give up,” said Randy Schmeltz. “I’m very proud of what they’ve done all year long. I haven’t had a team in a long time that’s won three invitationals during the season, and nobody since 1999 from John Glenn as a team has made it out to regional, so they should be applauded for that too.”
Also Thursday, CMA placed 13th with a score of 331. John Connelly carded 81, Santiago Fernandez and Kirby Hart both shot 83, Ben Sharff turned in an 84, and Martin Fecarotta carded an 89 for the round.
Several area individuals also closed out the year at Stonehenge.
LaVille’s Zach Gurtner just missed out on a five-way playoff for the final individual state berth out of Thursday’s regional with a 75, two strokes away from the 73 cutoff, while Triton’s Greg Music carded 91.
Bremen’s Kevin Woodyard turned in a 79 for the day, meanwhile.
“He played really well today. He got up and down multiple times; he was clutch on the five-footers today. His short game all around was tremendous,” said Bremen head coach Ryan Eakins of Woodyard.
“Overall he played really well, and I think he’s going to be happy with the way he finished his season and his career.
• WARSAW BOYS GOLF REGIONAL
At Stonehenge Golf Course, Winona Lake (par-71)
Team standings: 1. NorthWood 305, 2. Fort Wayne Dwenger 308, 3. Homestead 310, 4. Northridge 315, 5. Columbia City 316, 6. Leo 316, 7. Marian 316, 8. Canterbury 318, 9. Warsaw 320, 10. Penn 321, 11. Kokomo 326, 12. Carroll 328, 13. Culver Academies 331, 14. Western 332, 15. East Noble 334, 16. Fairfield 338, 17. Peru 344, 18. Glenn 352
NORTHWOOD (305): Brayden Glaser 73, Alec Dutkowski 75, Logan Kauffman 75, Matthew Ely 82, Hayden Klotz 83
CULVER MILITARY (331): John Connelly 81, Santiago Fernandez 83, Kirby Hart 83, Ben Sharff 84, Martin Fecarotta 89
GLENN (352): Tyler Prentkowski 71, Michael Schmeltz 90, Austen Hayes 93, Christian Jaske 98, Samuel Newhart 115