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Kash Bellar advances to state as Peru misses team cut

STATELY FOURSOME: Peru sophomore Kash Bellar (R) exchanges handshakes with playing partners Michael Perea of Culver Academy (Front C), Danny Kimes of Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger (Back C) and Brandon Hansen of Kokomo (L) after completing Thursday's round at the IHSAA Plymouth Boys' Golf Regional at Swan Lake Resort's Black Course. Bellar, Kimes and Hansen will all be playing next week in the IHSAA Boys' Golf State Finals after Bellar and Hansen qualified as individuals while Bishop Dwenger won the Plymouth Regional.

BY TRENT SCOTT - tscott@perutribune.com

PLYMOUTH – It was a bittersweet afternoon at Swan Lake Resort's Black Course for Peru at the IHSAA Plymouth Boys’ Golf Regional Thursday.

The Tigers were tantalizingly close to a spot in the IHSAA Boys’ Golf State Finals but were a stroke behind Warsaw for the final slot from the Plymouth Regional, finishing tied for fourth with Fort Wayne Canterbury and fifth overall on the fifth score tiebreaker.

“We had a goal set and we’ve just barely not reached it today,” Peru boys’ golf coach Clint Mathews said. “That said we couldn’t be prouder of these guys.

“They fought very hard in some difficult conditions on a difficult golf course and put up one of our best team scores of the year. We’re not going to look back on it as thinking where we left a shot here or there but as how proud we are of these guys.”

On the flipside, Kash Bellar will play at Prairie View GC next week after qualifying for the finals as an individual after shooting a round of 73, finishing a stroke behind medalist Johnny Filler from regional champions Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger, who won a playoff against Homestead’s Adam DeLong after both shot rounds of 72.

“(Kash) was solid top-to-bottom,” Mathews said. “There were a couple of bogeys out there but we could not have asked for a better finish with a birdie on No. 18 to ensure he was going to make it.

“That birdie also gave us an outside chance to advance as a team and he got it for us. He was solid like he has been for the last month plus and we hope that continues into next week.”

Bishop Dwenger won the regional with a team score of 305, two shots better than second-place Penn on 307 while Warsaw shot 318 to take the third spot ahead of Canterbury and Peru on 319.

“This is a tough golf course,” Mathews said about the Black Course. “There are penalties everywhere off the tee, especially on the front nine.

“I’m not surprised to see the third team score as high as it was today. We knew if we broke 320, we had a chance and while we did, we just barely missed that third team spot.”

Backing Bellar on the round were dual 79s from Corbin Robison and Jake Van Baalen while T. Fred Eddy carded an 88 and Andrew Overton shot a round of 92.

“This is the first time we’ve gone out with three scores in the 70s, which is something we’ve talked about all year,” Mathews said about the top three position players. “That’s why we were as close as we were.

“Jake finished phenomenally as he was 5-over after five holes and finished 7-over for the round, finishing with a really good birdie. Corbin played solid out there on a tough course, so those 79s were good, solid scores today.

“I was also pleased with our two seniors,” Mathews added. “T. Fred had it going on the front nine and he was able to post a score for us as we didn’t want to take a score in the 90s, which we didn’t.

“We wouldn’t have been as close if we had a score in the 90s and we’re proud of T. Fred’s performance. Andrew finished with a birdie, which is a good way to go out.”

Maconaquah’s Mason Taylor had a strong first regional outing as the freshman finished his round on 82. Fellow TRC golfer Harley Kruschwitz of Manchester did not make a return to the state finals after shooting 79.

“Mason played pretty good most of the day,” Maconaquah boys’ golf coach Austin Colby said. “He was a little upset when he left because he thought he left a few strokes on the back nine, especially on the last couple of holes, but this is something he can learn from.

“He felt like he played well enough to continue playing at the state finals but this was an invaluable experience.”

Taylor was in the same grouping as Peru, playing alongside Van Baalen throughout the round which Colby said was a positive for the freshman.

“Mason knows Jake pretty well and they get along,” Colby noted. “It did help knowing that he had someone to talk to in-between holes, especially when there was a logjam at the tee box, which allowed him to keep his mind at ease and not over think things.

“(Culver Military Academy’s) Chase Frantti also played with him earlier in the year when we hosted them and Pioneer, so it was good to see and play alongside familiar faces.”

With the season drawing to a close for the Braves, Colby said getting one golfer to the regional was a positive for the program but the players themselves wanted more.

“This experience helps the team a lot,” Colby said. “It was cool to see Hayden (Williamson) and Drake (Guyer) went to watch, seeing how the course played and getting the vibe the regional put off.

“These guys are definitely hungry to be up there not as individuals but as a team and that’s an attainable goal. We’ll talk about that from the beginning next year, about playing into June, and having these memories to pull on will help as they go along.”

The other two teams from the Peru Boys’ Golf Sectional, Western and Lewis Cass, finished 12th and 13th respectively with rounds of 338 and 346, the former tied with Columbia City in 11th but losing out on the fifth score tiebreaker.

Bellar will be joined by Kokomo’s Brandon Hansen in the state finals as the Peru Sectional individual qualifier carded a round of 74 to finish fifth overall while the other individual qualifier from Peru, Eastern’s Mason France, was level with Mason Taylor on 82.

The IHSAA Boys’ Golf State Finals will take place next Tuesday and Wednesday at Prairie View GC in Carmel beginning at 8 a.m. each day.