BY CHAD DARE
COVINGTON, Ind. —
As a host of a tournament, you hope that your guests enjoy their experience.
A year ago, the Covington golf team didn’t enjoy their experience in the Covington Invitational at RiverCrest Golf Club.
The Trojans finished last with a team score of 402 and that was their motivation this year.
On Saturday, Covington shot 43 strokes better with a 359, earning the Trojans a second-place finish behind the Benton Central Bison.
“This was great,’’ Covington coach Mike Thompson said. “Last year, we scored over 400 as a team, so shooting a 359 was excellent.’’
Leading the way for the Trojans was freshman Jansen Applegate, who tied for fourth with a nine-over 81.
“We came into today, wanting to get in the top three and get ourselves some medals,’’ said Applegate. “But, basically, we just wanted to play well and if we did that and didn’t place, that would be fine.
“But, we were really hoping to get a medal.’’
While Applegate and Josh Allen, who shot a 95, are freshman this season, the biggest turnaround for Covington individually from a year ago was from Grady Hilge.
A year ago, Hilge shot a 113 in the Covington Invitational and on Saturday, he finished ninth with a round of 86 — 27 strokes better.
“Grady did really well,’’ Applegate said. “He stepped up big time for the team.’’
Thompson points out the Trojans don’t have a single senior on the team this year.
“Everyone that is playing is going to be back and we have a good group of freshmen,’’ he said. “All five of our guys are playing really well as a team.’’
Thompson has set some goals for his team like breaking 180 for a nine-hole total and he wants them breaking 100 in an 18-hole tournament.
On Saturday, Applegate, Hilge, Allen and Tyler Hankins (97) met that goal, while Ethan Snyder (101) just missed the mark.
“With two guys in the 80s and two more in the 90s, they are exceeded my expectations,’’ Thompson said.
So, why has the Covington team turned things around this season?
“We’ve been working hard in practice,’’ Applegate said. “We know what we need to get done. We go straight to it and accomplish what we need to get done.
“It’s a very positive environment. We all help each other out along the way.’’
Applegate finished six strokes behind Joe Couch, the individual champion from Benton Central, who had six birdies en route to a 3-over 75.
“There are a couple of things that I need to work on,’’ he said. “You don’t ever play a perfect round of golf, but overall, I’m pleased with it.’’
Also finishing with 81s on Saturday was Fountain Central’s Cody Hoagland and North Vermillion’s Will Martin.
Martin’s round, which featured 12 pars, helped the Falcons to a third-place finish as a team with a score of 372.
Fountain Central came in fifth, with Attica sixth and Seeger was eighth.
Matt Oilar had the best round for the Red Ramblers with a 92, while Kendyl Wesley had the low score for the Patriots with a 90.
Attica, Covington, Fountain Central and Seeger will next play in the Bi-County Tournament on Monday and Tuesday at Harrison Hills Golf Course.