J.R. to regional? It’s a ‘Loch’ after Zebra sophomore shoots 79
Rochester takes 4th, Winamac 7th, Caston 9th, Pioneer 10th
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
LOGANSPORT — “Golf’s an easy game, but it’s hard to play.”
Rochester sophomore J.R. McLochlin has been playing golf for six years. His father Jon taught him the game, and when asked for the best advice his father ever gave him, McLochlin gave the advice which might sound like a contradiction but might have borne itself out on Nos. 14 and 15 at the Logansport regional at Dykeman Park Golf Course Friday.
After missing short par putts on both holes, McLochlin thinks he could have shot even better. But he also said he had his greatest day ever on a golf course.
McLochlin advanced to the regional for the second straight year after shooting a 79 and finishing second among individuals on non-advancing teams. The top three scores among players on non-advancing teams advance to regional, and Kankakee Valley’s Drew Andree (72) and Covenant Christian (DeMotte)’s Davis Peterson (81) will join him.
Twin Lakes, ranked No. 19 in the state, won the team title with a 309. Logansport (319) and Rensselaer (330) finished second and third, respectively, and also advanced.
Rochester shot a 340 and was fourth among the 10 complete teams in the field. Winamac shot a 371 and was seventh. Caston shot a 397 and was ninth. Pioneer shot a 453 and was 10th.
Logansport’s Ty Vietti also shot 72 and defeated Andree in a sudden-death playoff for medalist honors.
Peterson beat Kankakee Valley’s Gabe Kistler for the third individual spot.
The top three teams and top three individuals on non-advancing teams will travel to Sandy Pines Golf Club in DeMotte for the regional at 9 a.m. Eastern Thursday.
McLochlin followed up a 41 on the front nine with a 38 on the back nine. His score was a 10-stroke improvement from his 2021 sectional score at Dykeman Park, where he advanced as part of the Rochester team that finished second.
Other Rochester scores included Noah Riffle’s 86, Dryden Vance’s 87, Wesley Meadows’ 88 and Drew Strasser’s 89.
“Well, it feels awesome, but it kind of feels disappointing because you move on as an individual, and your team’s not there,” McLochlin said. “That’s the only sad part, but otherwise, it feels great to go to regional.”
Rochester coach Dan Bailey said McLochlin did a good job avoiding any troublesome areas on the course.
“From tee to green, he hit the ball pretty well today,” Bailey said. “Mostly just kept himself out of trouble. So no penalty balls, nothing in the woods. Really just kept it in front of him. He didn’t feel like he putted very well. From tee to green, if you can keep it in play … he did a pretty job of that today.”
McLochlin said the greens make Dykeman Park unique.
“I really do enjoy playing out here, but hitting the green is next to impossible, so you’ve got to be prepared to make your up-and-downs, and you’ve got to play it short,” McLochlin said. “They’re just very firm, and it’s kind of warm out too, so the ball’s not going to exactly stick, and Dykeman’s known for having its firm greens, so that’s why it’s next to impossible.”
McLochlin said he has been playing golf for six years. He said he spent a winter traveling to Swan Lake to get to where he is. He said his father Jon taught him the game, and J.R. said he has had many practices with his father working on his iron game and short game.
He was asked if this was his best day playing golf.
“Statistics-wise, yes, technically, today is my best day,” McLochlin said. “But I definitely think 79 is very easily beatable.”
Bailey had a more philosophical view of McLochlin’s day on the greens.
“He was very frustrated with his putting,” Bailey said. “Part of that I think is these kids all think they should make every putt they putt. But I think he is just a little bit frustrated because he missed several that were between three and six feet where it’s not realistic that you would make all of those but you would like to make a couple of them.”
McLochlin advancing means that someone from Rochester – either the entire team or an individual player – has advanced to the regional every year that the Logansport sectional has been held since 2014.
He said confidence is the most important part of golf.
“Confidence is like the number one thing,” McLochlin said. “Confidence is what got me through today. Because I felt so confident where I knew where the ball was supposed to start and where the ball was going to finish … confidence plays a very key role in golf.”
Riffle excelled at ball striking, according to Bailey.
“Boy, this was probably the best I’ve ever seen Noah hit it,” Bailey said. “His score definitely doesn’t indicate how well he hit the ball.”
Vance is the team’s lone senior. Like McLochlin, his day might also have been a contradiction in terms.
“He described his back nine as the best worst nine he’s ever played,” Bailey said. “Just because he would get on a roll and have a couple good holes and hit one crazy shot and dropping back down a little bit and lose a couple strokes on a hole. But he hit it really good. He birdied the super-hard par three number 12, and he was pretty excited about that.
“I feel for Dryden because he really wanted to play better every match. He really wants to, but it always seems like he has a hole or two that kind of derails him a little bit. But very proud of what he’s accomplished. He’s been a part of this since I’ve been a part of this. He has a special place on the golf team for me because we’ve gone through it together for the last few years.”
Bailey also said Meadows has improved “a ton.”
“It just seemed like throughout the year, he just gradually started improving,” Bailey said. “Every single round is a little bit better. He went through a little lull there in the last three weeks where he wasn’t hitting it very good, but he put a lot of time in this last week on the driving range and out on the course. … He has improved tremendously.”
Bailey said Strasser was frustrated by a couple lip-outs while putting.
Strasser, McLochlin, Riffle, Meadows and sophomore Robert Bozzo are all expected back next year, and Bailey also said there are four or five eighth-graders playing golf for the Rochester Middle School team.
“Next year, I’m bringing back five varsity players, and there can’t be very many schools that can say that,” Bailey said. “I think the hurdle that we have to get over is we have to find that guy or two that is consistently in the 70s. You know, if you look at the scores that all got out, they’ve got one or two that are all in the low-to-mid 70s, and to get to the point where we start expecting to advance, we’ve got to find those guys.
“Because we’ve got five guys that expect to be in the mid-80s now. And we’ve got to find those couple that expect to be in the mid-70s.”
Jaxon Roudebush shot matching 42s on the front nine and back nine for an 84 and missed advancing as an individual by three strokes. Ryan Gregor and Shaun Pratt each shot 95, freshman Brende Hines had a 97, and senior Jaden Terry had a 98.
Winamac’s team score was a 13-stroke improvement from the 2021 sectional.
Winamac shot a 376 when they finished second in the Hoosier North tournament on May 23.
Winamac last advanced as a team to regional in 2019.
A.J. Dague led Caston with an 82 and missed out on a playoff for the final individual spot by one stroke. Colby Pugh, like Dague an all-conference golfer, shot a 93, Bailey Zimpleman had a 105, and Luke Graham had a 117.
Caston’s score was a 21-stroke improvement from their 2021 sectional score.
Caston has not had an individual player advance to regional since Eli Douglass in 2017.
Jaden Seward notched a 47 on both the front nine and back nine for a 94 to lead the Panthers. Tayt Smith had a 109, Blaze Jones had a 121, Aiden Zeider had a 129, and Ashton Scales had a 131.
Logansport boys golf sectional results
at Dykeman Park Golf Course, Logansport, Friday (par 70)
Twin Lakes 309, Logansport 319, Rensselaer 330, Rochester 340, Kankakee Valley 345, Covenant Christian (DeMotte) 352, Winamac 371, South Newton 392, Caston 397, Pioneer 453
Incomplete teams: Tri-County, West Central, North Newton
TWIN LAKES (309): Ousley 74, Hubbard 77, Dellinger 79, Alexander 79, (Kyser 87)
LOGANSPORT (319): Vietti 72, Lange 78, Bair 84, Higgins 85, (Wooten 88)
RENSSELAER (330): Hillan 79, Geleott 81, Odle 84, Risner 86, (Drone 89)
ROCHESTER (340): J.R. McLochlin (41-38) 79, Noah Riffle (43-43) 86, Dryden Vance (45-42) 87, Wesley Meadows (46-42) 88, (Drew Strasser (43-46) 89)
KANKAKEE VALLEY (345): Andree 72, Kistler 81, Swallow 90, Rhoades 102, (Burke 105)
COVENANT CHRISTIAN (DEMOTTE) (352): Peterson 81, Walstra 86, DeJong 92, Veldman 93, (Dyke 94)
WINAMAC (371): Jaxon Roudebush (42-42) 84, Ryan Gregor (47-48) 95, Shaun Pratt (44-51) 95, Brenden Hines (51-46) 97, (Jaden Terry (47-51) 98)
SOUTH NEWTON (392): Cruz 90, Whaley 93, Kindig 104, Tebo 105, (Kunz 129)
CASTON (397): A.J. Dague (41-41) 82, Colby Pugh (45-48) 93, Bailey Zimpleman (55-50) 105, Luke Graham (59-58) 117
PIONEER (453): Jaden Seward (47-47) 94, Tayt Smith (52-57) 109, Blaze Jones (59-62) 121, Aiden Zeider (61-68) 129, (Ashton Scales (65-66) 131)
TRI-COUNTY: Jordan 98, Dreblow 111, Misch 112
WEST CENTRAL: Tarr 112, Schultz 126
NORTH NEWTON: Bultema 121
Top three individuals on non-advancing teams: 1. Drew Andree (Kankakee Valley) – 72, 2. J.R. McLochlin (Rochester) – 79, 3. Davis Peterson (Covenant Christian (DeMotte)) – 81
Medalist: Ty Vietti (Logansport) – 72
NOTE: Vietti defeated Andree (Kankakee Valley) in a sudden death playoff for medalist.
NOTE: Peterson defeated Kistler (Kankakee Valley) in a sudden death playoff for third low player on non-advancing teams.