BLOOMINGTON – Bedford North Lawrence, with pre-tournament scores higher than acceptable, steeled itself for some doom and gloom during the IHSAA sectional at Bloomington Country Club.
Those doubts were erased as the Stars carved off 24 strokes in only four days to finish second in the first stage of the state tournament series on Monday.
BNL, paced by Ethan Stanley’s expected low score and Cole Sanders’ surprising performance, carded 322 (and finished runner-up for the sixth consecutive year). No.19 Bloomington South won the team title with 305, while No.14 Bloomington North settled for third in the 11-team field with 326.
The top three teams, plus the top three individuals who are not members of qualifying teams, advanced to the regional at Champions Pointe on Thursday.
Stanley was second in the race for individual medalist with a 3-over 75, while Sanders was fourth overall with a 4-over 76. Both carded three birdies during their rounds.
“We were definitely much better today,” BNL coach Mike Wright said. “I think we learned a little bit (after shooting 346 on the course on Thursday). We were more mentally prepared to handle the greens. They were able to stay away from the big numbers.”
Stanley posted birdies on holes 6, 8 and 14. He fought his driver on the back nine but avoided the card-wrecking mistake that has plagued him in recent rounds.
“Lately I haven’t been able to get going, and today I was everywhere off the tee on the back nine,” Stanley said. “It’s hard to play well in the trees, it’s impossible to give yourself a look at birdie.
“Honestly, for everything that happened, I’ll take that score.”
Sanders was the major contributor who showed the most improvement in a short time span (slashing 13 shots). He carded birdies on holes 1 (10 feet), 6 (15 feet) and 11 (25 feet) while draining putts from all angles and distances.
“I just made a few putts, got my confidence going, and everything started dropping” said Sanders, who needed only 27 putts to negotiate the super-quick greens. “I was just able to keep the ball in play, able to hit some greens, and my putting was amazing.
“It feels pretty good to come out and put a good number up, for the first time in a while. My tee shots could use a little work, but other than that I feel good. I don’t know what that was the other day, but we turned it around.”
“Cole is feast or famine,” Wright said. “He’s the guy on this team that’s capable of beating Ethan, maybe the only one. When he puts it together, he gets rolling. He was knocking them in from everywhere.”
Colton Spires (85) and Cameron Jeskewich (86) completed the BNL scoring. Jeven Adams totaled 91.
South’s Drew Todd was the medalist with 73 while Seth Kestranek matched Stanley with 75. Brown County’s Parker VanNess (78), Seymour’s Owen Marshall (78) and Salem’s Nick Noel (87) advanced as individuals.
BNL will chase one of three qualifying spots (in a field of 18) for the state finals during the regional round. The top five individuals who are not members of qualifying teams will also move on to the finals at Prairie View on June 11-12.
“I feel good going into the regional, and I play well on that course,” Stanley said. “So I’m excited.”
“It will be a different situation,” Wright said. “We’re not expected to compete for a top-3 spot. So we can play freely.”
Team and individual scores