Battle Ground — After winning the sectional on Monday, Zionsville head golf coach Steve Simmons said that as much as he would like to add a regional title to the Eagles' trophy case, the most important thing was "surviving and advancing" at the regional to make the state finals.
That is exactly what they did on Thursday afternoon at Battle Ground Golf Club. The Eagles didn't play their all-around best, but they still shot a solid 298 to place second overall and advance to the state finals.
"That's exactly what we did, we survived today," Simmons said. "We clearly were not as sharp as I would like for us to be, but Joey (Ranieri) played well down the stretch and made some birdies coming in. You never want to say with a 298 that we played poorly, and we didn't play poorly, we were just a little sloppy in some places. Certainly there was a good round out there, but we just had an OK round for us. But I'm pleased and happy to be moving on."
Carmel won the regional with a 294.
Brebeuf also advanced with a 298, with Zionsville placing second on the fifth score. Simmons said the fact they were still able have to a round under 300 when they weren't playing their best shows the talent and experience.
"They were able really to grind out there today," Simmons said. "The goal coming into today was to not make any double bogeys and we made three or four of those today. The 16th hole, which we played so well when we were up here a couple weeks ago, we made a mess of today. We probably played it 6-over as a team, but we got birdies on 17 and 18 when we needed them and Joey Ranieri had a great day that could of even been better. I am really happy for Joey, really happy for our guys and the main thing I am happy about is that we are moving on."
Joey Ranieri led the Eagles with a 71.
He shot a 37 on the front nine and and a 34 on the back to place third overall.
"We probably haven't talked as much as we should have about Joey Ranieri this year," Simmons said. "He is the kind of kid that I literally leave alone on the course. He makes great decisions and he is a competitor. He was really, really good today in leading us when we didn't have it the rest of the way through the line-up. He still hasn't played his best round of golf this year, and I am hoping come Tuesday and Wednesday that he puts it all together and does what he has always done at the state finals."
Lucas Beck was the second-best Eagle, shooting a 75.
Beck was a two-time regional qualifier at Lebanon, where he attended his first three years. But this was the first time he will be advancing to the state finals.
"We are really doing this for Lucas," Simmons said. "He has never been to the state finals and he wanted to be on this stage and wanted the opportunity to play at Prairie View. Now he is going to get the chance to to play for two days. I hope this will take some of the pressure off of him, because I felt like he was under pressure for the last couple of weeks. He is a really good player, and I hope it showcases his talent once we get up there."
Drew Wood and Colin Nasser both shot 76s to be the final scoring Eagles.
Reid VonDielingen shot an 80 to be the fifth score.
"As a freshman, Colin has gone 77 and 76 in the the postseason," Simmons said. "Both of those rounds he actually had a chance to go lower than that. That is why you have a fifth man like Colin. You want someone who is capable of going low. His score counted today when Reid had a little bit of an off day, and it should be a big confidence builder for Colin because he knows he can get it done."
The State Finals will be on Tuesday and Wednesday at Prairie View.
The first tee times will be at 8 a.m.
Ranieri, Wood and VonDielingen were part of the team that placed sixth last year. Those three and Beck helped the Eagles place second at the State Preview by shooting a 296.
"We have three guys that have played a lot of golf at Prairie View," Simmons said. "I am hoping that more anything else, we go up there and swing free. We have nothing to lose. Everyone is expecting Carmel and Center Grove to clearly be better than everyone else. They are really, really good, but I really feel like we don't have a lot pressure on us and we can go up there and be aggressive and see where it takes us."