When it ‘Renie’s, it pours: Rochester’s 371 at tough Sandy Pines regional ends season
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
DEMOTTE –- Rochester senior golfer Reece Renie describes playing at Sandy Pines Golf Club as “target golf.”
And for the Zebras, they were not on target at the Lake Central regional at Sandy Pines Thursday.
Rochester shot a 371 and settled for 15th place in the 18-team field.
Renie led the Zebras with an 85. He finished 10 shots out of the final individual state spot.
Wade Shafer had an 89, J.R. McLochlin had a 96, Drew Strasser had a 101, and Dryden Vance had a 103.
Guerin Catholic won the regional with a 296, and Carmel (297) and Zionsville (318) also advanced to the IHSAA state finals at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel. The 36-hole state finals will occur Tuesday and Wednesday.
Westfield’s Alex Cesare (71) and Hunter Cook (73), Lake Central’s Tommy Philpot (75), Valparaiso’s Aiden Gutierrez (75) and Crown Point’s Ray Filter (75) were the top five individuals on non-advancing teams, and they also advanced to state.
Guerin Catholic’s Connor McNeeley was the medalist with a 70.
Guerin Catholic was No. 1, Carmel was No. 2, and Zionsville was No. 6 in the final coaches poll of the season. All three of those teams are also in the same sectional.
Rochester’s team score was 52 strokes higher than their sectional score at Dykeman Park Golf Course in Logansport six days earlier.
“I would say it is a challenging course if you’re not sure where your ball is going,” Rochester coach Dan Bailey said. “So if you don’t have really good control over your ball, it is a pretty tight course. It is one that you don’t have to be super long to have success on it, but you do have to be in control of your ball.”
Did the Zebra players know where their ball was going?
“Sometimes,” Bailey answered. “Sometimes, we didn’t play as well as every one of the guys had hoped. Each one of them went through stretches where they were unsure where the ball was going. To their credit, each of them got it back on the tracks a little bit. They were able to follow up a couple of bad holes with a couple of good holes.
“It was more of a roller coaster ride today.”
Citing his use of irons off the tee, Renie claimed that Sandy Pines was not a particularly long course. But it punished players who were not as accurate off the tee.
“It’s pretty short,” Renie said. “It’s target golf. You hit a lot of irons off the tee. I think I only hit four or five drivers today. But if you’re not hitting your irons exactly as you want them, then you’re going to have a 9-iron in your hand from the rough instead of a wedge. But it’s a lot of target golf, which makes it tough because if you’re just a little bit off, the score can get away from you really quick.”
The more slight-of-stature Strasser relies on his short game, but he said his short game was not at its best.
“It was pretty disappointing,” Strasser said. “I came off sectionals, shot an 86. And then the week before at Battle Ground, I shot an 82. … I came here and couldn’t really find the fairways or the greens and didn’t score well.”
Bailey also said that accuracy was at a premium compared to other courses that they had played.
“This is definitely a more difficult course than our sectional venue, Dykeman,” Bailey said. “And the biggest thing is that you can hit it sideways a lot at Dykeman. You’ve got a lot of wide open fairways running next to each other and not a lot of penalty areas.”
Bailey then told of how Vance made a par at the sectional despite hitting his tee shot 60 yards outside of the fairway. He added that Sandy Pines is not nearly as forgiving.
Rochester’s season included second-place finishes at both the Three Rivers Conference and sectional tournaments.
“We didn’t place a number on expectations,” Bailey said. “Obviously, not super excited about where we ended up, but at the beginning of the year, we sat down as a group, and together, they pretty quickly said our main goals are to play the best we can at our conference tournament and in sectionals.
“And those were the two tournaments we played the best in.”
Strasser is a sophomore who didn’t get a freshman season in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think we all would have liked to win conference and win sectional, but we all played well. We just lost by two great teams. There’s nothing we could really do about it. I think we played pretty well up until today. It’s just kind of disappointing to play pretty bad in your last round, but overall, it was a pretty good season.”
at Sandy Pines Golf Club, DeMotte, Thursday (par 72)
Guerin Catholic 296, Carmel 297, Zionsville 318, Crown Point 328, Valparaiso 331, Lake Central 332, Faith Christian 342, Chesterton 346, Logansport 346, Twin Lakes 353, Harrison (West Lafayette) 359, Boone Grove 361, Munster 363, West Lafayette 370, Rochester 371, LaPorte 373, Knox 421, North Judson 429
GUERIN CATHOLIC (296): McNeely 70, Wessel 73, Modleski 74, White 79, (Hein 81)
CARMEL (297): Armfield 72, Fujita 74, Michael 75, Booth 76, (Sander 77)
ZIONSVILLE (318): Melliere 76, Nasser 77, Wall 82, Orbaugh 83, (Dudasko DQ)
CROWN POINT (328): Filter 75, Embry 81, Gozo 84, Wool 88, (Day 116)
VALPARAISO (331): Gutierrez 75, Abel 79, Danzi 87, Gaghan 90, (Utesch 95)
LAKE CENTRAL (332): Philpot 75, Huppenthal 83, Jaksich 83, Matlon 91, (Cope 92)
FAITH CHRISTIAN (342): J. Peter 79, S. Peter 83, Valiant 89, Patton 91, (Gerber 105)
CHESTERTON (346): Scott 85, Fisher 86, Smith 87, Pilarski 88, (Bakaitis 93)
LOGANSPORT (346): Trevor Vietti 78, Tyler Vietti 84, Lange 87, Wooten 97, (Higgins 102)
TWIN LAKES (353): Dellinger 84, Alexander 86, Hubbard 88, Ousley 95, (Creamer 102)
HARRISON (359): Larson 84, A. Johnson 89, L. Johnson 92, McBride 94, (Leamon 97)
BOONE GROVE (361): Night 82, Lukas 91, Massom 93, Smith 95, (Neis 96)
MUNSTER (363): Siurek 85, Mulcahy 91, Dells 91, Stojkavich 96, (Ladd 104)
WEST LAFAYETTE (370): Bauman 88, Zink 94, Meister 94, Greene 94, (Toms 97)
ROCHESTER (371): Reece Renie (41-44) 85, Wade Shafer (43-46) 89, J.R. McLochlin (48-48) 96, Drew Strasser (49-52) 101, (Dryden Vance (54-49) 103)
LAPORTE (373): Menke 88, Sittig 88, Siefker 93, Holmes 104, (Taylor 110)
KNOX (421): Berndt 100, Geller 104, Wakal 107, Wagner 110, (Singleton 127)
NORTH JUDSON (429): Cox 87, Minix 104, Tanner Hampton 115, Stowe 123, (Trey Hampton 125)
Participating as individuals: Sebben II (Andrean) 79, Dick (Carroll (Flora)) 88, Nelson (Delphi) 80, Miller (Hammond Gavit) 101, Donovan (Hanover Central) 77, Grennes (Hebron) 93, Bell (Hebron) 103, Castellanos (Highland) 99, Myers (Kankakee Valley) DQ, Gorski (LaCrosse) 101, Everidge (Lafayette Central Catholic) 88, Zdyb (New Prairie) 94, Geleott (Rensselaer) 100, Hillan (Rensselaer) 91, Hall (Westfield) 76, Cesare (Westfield) 71, Cook (Westfield) 73
Top five players on non-advancing teams: 1. Alex Cesare (Westfield) – 71, 2. Hunter Cook (Westfield) – 73, t-3. Tommy Philpot (Lake Central) – 75, t-3. Aiden Gutierrez (Valparaiso) – 75, t-3. Ray Filter (Crown Point) – 75
Medalist: Connor McNeely (Guerin Catholic) – 70