Vikings can’t knock down NWI barrier at state
By Mike Hutton 613-0141 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter:@MikeHuttonPT June 12, 2013 11:14PM
Valparaiso High School golfer Kyle Meihofer lifts his ball out of the sand trap adjacent to the 12th green. Meihofer finished the two-day tournament tied in 11th place with a score of 143. High school golfers from across the state competed in the second day of the 2013 IHSAA Boys Golf State Tournament at The Legends of Indiana Golf Course in Franklin, Ind., June 12, 2013. | Doug McSchooler~for the Post-Tribune
For more state tournament coverage, see page 49.
Updated: July 15, 2013 7:31PM
FRANKLIN — Even if it didn’t say it, the Valparaiso golf team arrived at the state finals with high expectations — they wanted to have the best finish ever in school history for a team. Maybe even win the title.
Then reality collided with expectations and it was sobering. Golf will do that to you. It is cruel in that sense. Once you believe you have it figured out, it cuts you down at the knees and turns you into a puddle of humility.
A mediocre-at-best first day left the 10 shots out of the lead. They were playing for second place or third place. It turned out much worse. They finished 12th.
There is no shame in being one of the 12 best teams in the state.
But there is a hump that has to be conquered for some team from Northwest Indiana, whether it’s Valparaiso or Crown Point next year or some other school the year after.
The Vikings looked like they were going to knock that hump down after a spectacular season, in which they didn’t lose one 18-hole local tournament. After Bobby Jacobs, essentially their No. 2 player, set a sectional record at Forest Park with 64. After they stunned the field last week with a come-from-behind victory at Battle Ground Golf Club with a two-stroke victory.
They are deep, with Kyle Meihofer and Jacobs, a couple of all-state players capable of going as low as anyone from Indianapolis or Terra Haute or Fort Wayne.
There other players, like Andrew Gariup and Alex Pancek and Patrick Andrie, were good enough to shoot in the mid 70s. It was time to break down the invisible Indianapolis golf barrier — the one that more or less says that only teams from the middle and southern part of the state can win the state title because they are a) familiar with the course and b) playing year around because the weather is so much better down here than it is in the frozen tundra of the region. They are also a more dedicated group, overall. At least that is the perception.
That barrier was only reinforced — again.
Whether it’s the lack of familiarity with the course (Most of the Valparaiso players had played it three times before in the state finals), the enormity of the task or the difference in the quality of play from one area to the next, even the very best teams from the area have perennial problems with this stage.
Let me say this, too: The Vikings were, from top to bottom, the best regular-season team I’ve covered since 1997.
Chesterton had a good team a few years ago, when Kyle and Ryan Grassel , Pat Herrod, Nick Stasil and Josh Kalita, as fearsome a fivesome as ever existed, teed it up.
But even those four, perhaps slightly better than the Valparaiso top four, weren’t as consistently good as this team was this season.
The Legends is a tough course to play — especially when the wind kicks up and the course dries out but it’s not impossible
It certainly doesn’t seem as hard as the Vikings made it Wednesday in the final round, when they shot a 311.
A few years ago, 311 was a decent score. Now, it’s a back-of-the-pack score. For the sake of comparison, when the Vikings finished fourth in 1989, they had a two-day total of 645. That was a different course, Prestwick, which offered up its own version of devilish fun. Times change. Equipment changes. Players get better.
And Northwest Indiana still struggles even when it seems like it has a chance.
Bobby Jacobs, who wasn’t at all happy with his round of 75, didn’t have an answer for what happened.
“I can’t put a name to it,” he said when asked why they seem to struggle here. “I’d say it’s just because we played poorly. We’ve been here a couple of years. We just didn’t play our best — and that is the end of it.”
Yes, it is — and not the ending the five Vikings seniors, who have been coming to state since their freshman year, wanted.
Golf, however, doesn’t necessarily give you what you want.
The Vikings know that and they felt that more than ever the last couple of days.