Freshman Fox leads PH to county golf repeat
May 6—ELWOOD — With its entire roster returning this season, Pendleton Heights remained a strong favorite to repeat its 2022 Madison County boys golf championship Saturday at Elwood Golf Links.
While the venue was changed, the tournament returned to 18 holes after last year's nine-hole event and the competing teams had gotten stronger, there was nothing slowing down the Arabians as they firmly planted their own flag as the county's dominant boys golf team.
Yet, with all that experience, it was a newcomer who led the way.
Freshman Hayden Fox fired a 3-over par 74 to earn medalist honors in his first county championship, and Pendleton Heights had four of the six best individual scores to easily outdistance Lapel and Alexandria with a score of 308 to earn its second straight county title.
"The kids came out and played well," PH coach Hunter Cook said. "The wind was a little factor, and the greens were a little slower than what the kids are normally used to. But, shoot, all five of my kids probably missed four to five putts inside of eight feet, or that score could have been lower. But, overall, I'm happy with a 308 and a second year as county champs."
As solid as Fox's round was, his score could have been even lower.
While he hit every fairway but one during his round, the birdies were hard to come by as he had several putts from inside 10 feet that narrowly missed.
"It's really exciting, and it's exciting that everyone on the team played good," he said. "I just struck it well, hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens. I think I only hit one bad drive all day."
Sophomore Vance Jarvis was next for the Arabians and third overall with a 77. Last year's county medalist, Sam Denny, tied for fourth with a 78, and 2022 regional qualifier — and PH's lone senior — Cohen Gray carded a 79 to round out the Arabians' scoring and complete the All-County team.
As usual for this team, depth won the day, and the experience benefited a talented freshman.
"Having the experience we have with Cohen, Sam, Ryan (Davis) and Vance playing last year, it's really helped Hayden stay in it, stay in the game and keep going," Cook said. "He's an even-keeled kid. If he has a bad hole, he's going to jump right back on it."
"It's good because I don't really have any expectations. I'm just a freshman," Fox added.
The Bulldogs and Tigers flip-flopped in the final standings from a year ago with Lapel finishing at 333 to edge Alex by two strokes.
The Bulldogs were also led by a first-time participant in Tyler Lutz, who was also playing in his only county tournament. The senior finished as runner-up with a 75, just one shot back of Fox. Kaden Suchocki was next for Lapel at 82, followed by Jacob Erwin at 87 and Grant Humerickhouse at 89.
For his efforts, Lutz joined the four Arabians in being named All-County for 2023.
"Tyler is showing great consistency, not only today but all year, so I'm not surprised to see him finish that high," Lapel coach Ryan Jackson said. "You could tell he was focused, but also he was out there having fun. At the end of the day, this is high school athletics, and it's supposed to be fun. He's enjoying himself. ... I'm super proud of him. I'm so proud of that kid."
"I knew it was going to be my first and my last, so I wanted to come out here and enjoy it," Lutz said. "I started birdie-birdie, then double-double, but after that it was all pars and a couple bogeys. I'd like to thank God for giving me the strength to be here and play in this opportunity."
The Tigers also landed a player on the All-County team as senior Owen Harpe came in at 78 to tie for fourth with Denny. Colton Eden added an 84, followed by Isaiah Fye's 86 and an 87 from freshman Brady Gast.
It was another strong showing by one of the improving county programs in Alexandria.
"I'm happy about it. We've worked hard and put in the work," Harpe said. "We're playing good, and I'll take it. We have Brady, the freshman, coming up."
Another of the potential contenders could not get breaks to go its way as Frankton finished at 350 to come home fourth for the second straight year. Jace Scott paced the Eagles with an 81, followed by Liam Baker at 87, Kaden Key at 88 and Jett Hiatt at 94.
Anderson was fifth at 425. Chris Greer led the Indians at 94, followed by Ethan Krick at 102, Graham Kelley at 110 and Nick Davis with a 119.
Elwood was next at 431, led by Beau Brandon's score of 100. Zane Henry (106), Jayden Reese (109) and Braxton Dailey (116) rounded out the scoring for the Panthers.
Madison-Grant was seventh at 448 and was led by Jacob Moore at 101 strokes. Mason Seward came in with a 109, Evan Bishir finished at 111 and Drake Tomlinson added a 117 to complete the Argylls' scoring.
Contact Rob Hunt at email@example.com or 765-640-4886.