Rochester shoots 367, finishes 12th at Sandy Pines regional
Caston’s Pugh cards 108 in final prep round
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
The Rochester boys golf team shot a 367 and finished 12th out of 15 teams at the Lake Central regional at Sandy Pines Golf Club in DeMotte Thursday, ending their season. Front, from left – Parker Brown, Brady Morgan, Ashton Musselman. Middle – Wesley Meadows, Drew Strasser, J.R. McLochlin, Noah Riffle. Back – Robert Bozzo, Brock Bowers, coach Mason Heyde, Kaeven Brown, Enrique Navarro.
DEMOTTE — The mental part of golf betrayed the Rochester boys golf team more than the physical part at the Lake Central regional at Sandy Pines Golf Club Thursday, according to coach Mason Heyde.
For four of the five players, they have another year to figure it out.
The Zebras shot a 367 and finished 12th out of 15 teams at the regional. Drew Strasser, the team’s lone senior, led with an 83. J.R. McLochlin added an 88, Noah Riffle had a 92, Ashton Musselman carded a 104, and Enrique Navarro shot a 107.
“Overall, we left a lot of shots out there,” Heyde said. “I really wish we work on our mental game, and when we do have those bad holes, what do we do with it?”
The other RTC area player competing at the regional was Caston senior Colby Pugh, who shot a 108.
Valparaiso won the regional with a 299. Penn (316) and Chesterton (320) also advanced to state by finishing in the top three.
Munster’s Torin Mulcahy, who was playing in the same group as Riffle, and Trinity Greenlawn’s Jacob Palmer each shot 75 and advanced as the two lowest individuals on non-advancing teams.
Colin Kaleth, Valparaiso’s No. 3 player, shot a 73 to claim medalist honors.
Rochester had two birdies on the round.
McLochlin birdied No. 9, a par-4 with the green in the back right, two fairway bunkers and two more greenside bunkers. Navarro, a junior, birdied No. 12, a par-4 that has a water hazard on the right and a large bunker fronting the green.
But compared to their practice round at Sandy Pines Wednesday, they thought their score would be lower.
“It was rough,” Heyde said. “We played a lot better yesterday. Same conditions, really windy. We probably shot 20 strokes better yesterday, I would say. We didn’t really keep true scores yesterday, but ballpark, everyone was feeling really good and hitting the ball well, and three holes in, I knew it was a different day.”
Strasser was 1-over par through four holes before a quadruple bogey on No. 5. He also was frustrated by a double bogey on the par-5 11th hole.
“Not great,” Strasser said when asked about his round. “I had an eight on (number) five, and I doubled one of the par-5s. … middle of the fairway and put it in two bunkers and doubled it. So I didn’t play very well.”
Heyde spoke of the effect that the fifth hole had on Strasser.
“That hole really shook him, I think,” Heyde said. “He was playing well. He was (getting) pars, and it wasn’t just scrambling pars; it was on in two, barely missing birdie putts, easy pars. When you’re playing like that, a big number really affects you.”
Strasser lost his freshman season to the pandemic in 2020. He made it to the regional as part of the team in 2021. The 2021 team shot a 371 and finished 15th out of 18 teams at the Sandy Pines regional.
“Not as good as it could have been,” Strasser said in summing up his high school golf career. “I think that both times our teams didn’t perform the way we wanted to, and shoulda, coulda, woulda, you know. Could have been possibly state qualifiers, but regionals is good anyways. Can’t complain too much about going to regionals.”
Strasser called Heyde “a great mentor in all aspects of life.” Heyde coached Strasser in basketball, tennis and golf going back to when Strasser was in middle school.
“He helps during the golf game, but then if you ask him a question about anything else, he can also help you too,” Strasser said.
Strasser suffered sudden cardiac arrest 10 months ago and was hospitalized but came back and was able to participate with Jake Freeman at the tennis sectional less than two months later.
“It meant a lot because I could play with my friends again after I had been sitting on the sidelines watching for how long and just being able to move around and have fun again,” Strasser said. “Right after I started playing tennis, I started going to the golf course and trying to swing a club. Over the winter, I hit a lot of balls inside, so I could get my flexibility back and stuff.”
McLochlin was coming off a team-low 76 at the Logansport sectional at Dykeman Park Golf Course on June 2, but he started with back-to-back double bogeys.
“He started off and hit a great tee shot on one, hit a great shot into the green on two and then really struggled on the greens,” Heyde said. “And same thing on hole two. On in regulation, really struggled on the greens. He was 4-over through two holes just on short game, and that’s what he struggled with at Dykeman, especially the first time we played Dykeman this year. He really struggled on the greens. He knows what he needs to work on. We’ve just to figure out something to help him either slow down on the greens, just mentally slow down but also slow down as well his putting. Because when he struggles on greens, it’s normally very aggressive putts that have a lot coming back.”
Meanwhile, Heyde raved about Navarro’s positive mental attitude.
“Afterwards, he’s joking, happy,” Heyde said. “I shot a 107, I think. It could have been a lot worse.”
Heyde also said he had a talk with Musselman, a freshman, after shooting a 56 on the front nine. He followed with a 48 on the back.
“He’s really upset, and I said, ‘Muss, it would take a lot for us to get out today,’” Heyde recalled. “I told him, ‘When we started this year, you were like eight or nine on the team.’ I said, ‘If I told you would be playing regionals for varsity, what would you say?’
“I was just trying to remind them that they’ve made a ton of progress this year, and they can’t forget that.”
Pugh was 12-over-par through three holes before back-to-back pars on Nos. 4 and 5. He shot a 56 on the front nine. His back nine included a par on No. 11 and a birdie on No. 16.
Pugh was the first Caston player to advance to the regional as an individual since Eli Douglass in 2017.
This is the first year of the new state tournament format, in which there are six regionals instead of five. That means that 18 teams will make state instead of 15. But only the top two individuals on non-advancing teams will advance; previously, the top five individuals earned a state trip.
at Sandy Pines Golf Club, DeMotte, Thursday (par 72)
Valparaiso 299, Penn 316, Chesterton 320, South Bend St. Joe 321, Munster 324, Crown Point 329, Twin Lakes 337, Lake Central 339, Mishawaka Marian 345, New Prairie 353, Rensselaer 358, Rochester 367, Boone Grove 376, LaPorte 383, John Glenn 404
VALPARAISO (299): Kaleth 73, Gonzalez 74, Utesch 74, Locke 78, (Carlson 80)
PENN (316): Mounts 74, Yewchuk 79, Stewart 80, Urbanski 83, (Donze 84)
CHESTERTON (320): Paul Scott 75, Phil Scott 78, Ennis 83, Smith 84, (Bazil 93)
SOUTH BEND ST. JOE (321): Raster 78, Guyton 80, Swick 81, Borsodi 82, (Basney 87)
MUNSTER (324): Mulcahy 75, Landmesser 81, Stojkovich 83, Hayes 85, (Eplawy 86)
CROWN POINT (329): Filter 77, Ward 80, Head 85, Grainger 87, (Sargent 107)
TWIN LAKES (337): Dellinger 78, Ousley 83, Kaufman 87, Alexander 89, (Kyser 89)
LAKE CENTRAL (339): Morton 81, Carroll 81, Howell 88, Robinson 89, (Darak 95)
MISHAWAKA MARIAN (345): Hahn 81, Keefer 85, Padmos 86, Tamashasky 93, (Horvath 93)
NEW PRAIRIE (353): Zdyb 80, Shelton 82, Goodman 93, Chalik 98, (Sinka 117)
RENSSELAER (358): Odle 85, Geleott 87, Drone 89, Mushett 97, (Porter 110)
ROCHESTER (367): Drew Strasser (42-41) 83, J.R. McLochlin (44-44) 88, Noah Riffle (49-43) 92, Ashton Musselman (56-48) 104, Enrique Navarro (58-49) 107
BOONE GROVE (376): Lukas 80, Schultz 95, Humpal 100, Stevens 101, (Lucas 102)
LAPORTE (383): Sittig 87, Mrozinski 95, Abin 98, Garrett 103, (Holmes 109)
JOHN GLENN (404): Kobelt 94, Taylor 97, Kaser 101, Roush 112, (Pugh 119)
Players competing as individuals: Cohen Watson (Knox) 109, Steven Webb (Elkhart) 82, Colby Pugh (Caston) 108, Jackson Haschel (South Central (Union Mills)) 100, Jacob Palmer (Trinity Greenlawn) 75, Brady Bair (Logansport) 94, Tyler Bush (Michigan City) 107, Max Cressy (Trinity Greenlawn) 79, Logan Lange (Logansport) 95, Christian Kim (Wheeler) 96, Sam Puent (Hanover Central) 91, Shawn Sullivan (Hobart) 131, James Sobecki (Lowell) 95, Colin Szczudlak (Portage) 110, Davis Peterson (DeMotte Christian) 90
Individuals advancing on non-advancing teams: t-1. Torin Mulcahy (Munster) – 75, t-1. Jacob Palmer (Trinity Greenlawn) – 75
Medalist: Colin Kaleth (Valparaiso) – 73