Madison boys golf won its eighth-straight — and 24th overall -- IHSAA sectional championship Monday at Sunrise golf course. Team members are (from left): Coach Chris Conner, Luke Ommen, Drew Barron, Trent Jameison, Dylan Eblen and Landon McDowell. (Staff photo by David Campbell)
Madison boys golf won its eighth-straight — and 24th overall -- IHSAA sectional championship Monday at Sunrise golf course. Team members are (from left): Coach Chris Conner, Luke Ommen, Drew Barron, Trent Jameison, Dylan Eblen and Landon McDowell. (Staff photo by David Campbell)
Madison may have not had the low-medalist or even the individual runner-up, but the Cubs’ superior depth carried them to their eighth-straight IHSAA Boys Golf Sectional title Monday at Sunrise Golf Course.

Madison shot a 319 to edge county rival Southwestern by eight strokes. Jennings County was third with a 335 as all three punched their tickets to the regional at Champions Pointe Golf Club in Henryville on Thursday.

Jennings’ Bryce Kirchner fired a one-under 71 to lead the field, just one stroke ahead of Southwestern’s Hunter Mefford. Madison had the next two lowest scores and had all four scorers shoot 90 or better to win its 24th sectional crown.

“They closed well. I was nervous at the turn. I really wasn’t sure at the turn how it would turn out,” Madison coach Chris Conner said. “But Dylan (Eblen) played one of his best nine holes all year, Drew (Barron) shot two under and the other three stayed steady. I was really proud of the way they finished.”

Madison couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start with four of the five players taking at least a bogey on No. 1 and only Luke Ommen, who was at one-under 35, anywhere near par at the turn.

But taking advantage of a back nine that they know so well, the Cubs kicked it into high gear over the final nine holes to distance themselves from their two top competitors.

Barron led the way with a 74, which was good for third overall, while Ommen shot a 75 to tie for fourth. Trent Jameison fired an 80, Eblen carded a 90 and Landon McDowell had a non-scoring 97.

“They deserved this. They’ve worked hard the last four weeks after we struggled a little bit at conference,” Conner said. “We rededicated our practices and they worked hard and it paid off.”

Southwestern has also been working hard and it paid off in the Rebels’ best-ever showing in a sectional tournament.

Southwestern was led by Mefford, who finished even-par with an unusual round that featured only two birdies and two bogeys to go with 14 pars.

“Honestly, it was kind of boring. It was just making pars, getting a couple of birdies and having a couple of bogeys. The best way I can describe it was boring,” Mefford said.

“Sometimes boring is pretty good in golf,” Southwestern coach David Bright said laughing. “He played in a state amateur qualifier on Saturday and he played on greens that were probably 13 on the stint meter and he comes here it’s probably running at a nine or nine and a half. He left a lot of putts dead center of the hole and that even-par round could very easily have been a 68. Boring for him is good because that’s solid and that’s what is going to give us that baseline score that we need from him all of the time.”

Mefford’s round was nearly matched by Trenton Hadley, who shot a 75 to tie Ommen for fourth-best on the day. Austin Kramer worked his way through a rough round to shoot an 82 while Camden Ashby shot a 98 that included an eagle on the par-five No. 15. Billy Tingle had a non-scoring 114.

“Austin had a tough day and I’m sure that he thinks he should have shot about four or five strokes better. But that’s one of the great things about our team. If one guy has a down day another can pick him up and Trenton had a great round,” Bright said. “(Ashby) is probably capable of shooting in the low 90s and he was in the high 90s which is what our goal was and what gives us a chance. All in all, we came in here and did what we set out to do so you have to be happy with that.”

“Trent played really well and Austin didn’t play as well as he was hoping to, but he hung in there and shot a 39 on the back nine,” Mefford said. “I’m just really proud of all of our teammates for all of the hard work that they’ve put in all year. It finally came together on a really important day with four teams that are pretty much similar and we’re going to make it to the regional.”

Neither Shawe nor Switzerland County had any golfers qualify for regional.

Switzerland placed sixth overall with a 379 led by Garrett Demaree, who shot an 86 and missed the regional cut by four strokes. Tyler Konkle shot an 87, Austin Wolf carded a 94, Aaron Bladen had a 112 and Morgan Gammons took a non-scoring 129.

Shawe did not field a complete team and was unable to post a team score. Chandler Cole led the Hilltoppers with an 87, Trenton Purvis had a 103 and Jack Grote carded a 110.

In addition to the three team qualifiers, three other players qualified for the regional as individuals from non-advancing teams: Blake Stamper of Austin with a 76, Derek Rockey of Scottsburg with an 80, and Weston Allen of Henryville with an 82.

The regional at Champions Pointe will tee off at 8 a.m. with individual tee times being announced later this week.

Last year, Madison finished third in the event and Mefford was fifth overall as both earned berths to the state finals. Considered by many to be the toughest regional in the state, just being in contention is considered a success.

“We shot a 319 today, but I don’t think that will cut it on Thursday,” Conner said with a smile. “I think we need to have a 310 or better and hope and pray because anything over that isn’t going to do it against Center Grove, Columbus North or Floyd. They’re all going to be under 310. If we’re not down there, we don’t have a chance. But that’s why we play it. Go down there and see what happens.”

“That’s a really good regional, but I think we’re capable. We’re just going to have to play a little better than we played today,” Mefford said. “Like I told them on the bus this morning: tunnel vision. Don’t worry about who we’re playing with, just go out there and worry about what you’re doing and play well.”