Boys golf: All-County team

Golf is an unforgiving game, and every player faces failure at some point.

Drew Rowen managed to find success when it mattered most this spring.

The Center Grove senior had his ups and downs just like everyone else but turned it on at the right time, earning medalist honors at the Franklin Sectional with a 72 and then locking up an individual berth in the state finals, where he finished in a tie for 30th.

His steady play down the stretch helped him become the Daily Journal’s Player of the Year.

“I was proud of how I played this year,” Rowen said. “Relative to expectations, I felt like I lived up to them for the most part. I would have liked to have the team with me at state, but it is what it is. I’m proud of how we played this season and how I played overall.”

As the reigning state champion, Center Grove came into the season with high expectations, but the graduation losses of lineup regulars Sam Slaughter and Brandon Heffner — plus the unexpected loss of senior Sam Hord — forced the lone two varsity holdovers, Rowen and Luke Beetz, to up their leadership game as the veterans of what quickly became a very young team.

“We had two freshmen playing in the lineup pretty much all season,” Rowen said, “so it put a lot of pressure on me and Luke to kind of mature them and make them realize that they were a crucial part of the team really fast and they had to grow up.

“We just had to go out and play good week in, week out if we wanted to win tournaments. Losing (Slaughter, Heffner and Hord), those are three really talented, good players, so me and Luke, we realized that we were going to have to step it up.”

The Trojans won county and sectional championships before coming up one stroke short of returning to the state finals. Rowen, though, advanced on his own, carding a pair of 78s at Prairie View under brutally hot conditions.

He had shot 76-76—152 a year ago to tie for 16th individually during Center Grove’s title run.

Having wrapped up his high school career, Rowen is set to transition from one winning program to another. Beginning in the fall, he’ll be teeing it up at the University of Indianapolis, where he plans to major in finance and possibly add a minor in economics.

“I’m excited to go in and try to compete at a top-level program,” Rowen said. “When I look at when I was coming into Center Grove and then I look at what I’m going into at UIndy, there’s a lot of the same qualities, a lot of the same things there.”

Rowen helped the Trojans claim a state title a year ago. If he can continue to deliver when the stakes are highest, he just might be able to add to the Greyhounds’ collection of hardware in the future, too.

The 2022 All-County team for boys golf:

Luke Beetz, Center Grove senior: Helped the Trojans win county and sectional championships in his final season … Ranked second on the team with an 18-hole average of 76.8 strokes.

Braxton Christie, Indian Creek senior: Earned all-conference honors … Set new school record with a nine-hole round of 29 … Shot 75 at sectional to earn an individual qualifying spot for regional.

Will Davis, Whiteland senior: Finished season with 18-hole average of 73 and a nine-hole average of 34.33 … Was medalist at Mid-State Conference and county tournaments … Qualified for regional as an individual.

Ian Reed, Greenwood Christian junior: Became the school’s first-ever state qualifier in any sport, shooting 80-76—156 to tie for 30th … Helped the Cougars make second straight regional appearance.

Drew Rowen, Center Grove senior: Earned sectional medalist honors with a 72 … Qualified for state as an individual, tying for 30th with a total of 156 … Will play college golf at the University of Indianapolis.

Jackson Watkins, Greenwood senior: Led the Woodmen with an 18-hole stroke average of 75 … Posted a 76 at Franklin Sectional to advance to regional as an individual.

Honorable mention

James Beetz, Center Grove; Max Blandford, Edinburgh; Reid Davidson, Franklin; Kadin Gibson, Franklin; Drew Hardin, Center Grove; Will McGuinness, Franklin; Sutton Piercefield, GCA