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Hornets top Gophers in early golf

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HUELSKAMP: Clinton Prairie junior Evan Huelskamp watches his drive on the 18th hold Monday. Huelskamp went off in the first group as the Gophers’ No. 2 golfer and finished with a 58 against Rossville.
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BALL-FLIGHT WATCH: Rossville senior Jacob Dahmen watches his drive on the 17th hole at Angel Hill Golf Course on Monday. Dahmen shot the low round for the Hornets with a 45, as Rossville topped Clinton Prairie, 193-210, in the early season match.
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MEDALIST: Clinton Prairie junior Grant McGraw, chipping on the 17th hole, shot a 42 to win medalist honors during Monday’s match with Rossville. ANDREW KRULL/akrull@ftimes.com
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FINISHING UP: Rossville senior Bryce Oliver finishes up his round on the 18th green on Monday, as teammate Jacob Dahmen looks on. Oliver, Rossville’s No. 1 golfer, struggled with a 52 during the match with Clinton Prairie, but his coach Lonny Lawson expects him to come back to his norm.

BY ANDREW KRULL - akrull@ftimes.com

Rossville topped Clinton Prairie, 193-210, in boys golf at Angel Hill Golf Course on Monday, as both teams worked out the early season kinks.

Prairie's Grant McGraw took medalist honors with a low round of 42.

“Tonight was a good eye-opener in seeing what we have to work on,” Gophers head coach Jim Cullom said. “I've got three returnees with seven new ones. Most of them have played golf, but not competitively. Tonight they were a little nervous, but I think they got through OK.”

The Hornets displayed better balance during Monday's match, with senior Jacob Dahmen leading the way, carding a 45. Junior Nathan Shafer finished with a 46, with freshman Gavin Elston and sophomore Evan Hopkins both posting 51s. Rossville was able to prevail despite their No. 1 golfer, senior Bryce Oliver, not recording one of the top four rounds for inclusion in the team score, finishing with a 52. Sophomore Kolton Harshbarger is also in the varsity mix, playing No. 5 on Monday with his score being used as the first junior varsity score. 

“I'm pretty pleased,” Rossville head coach Lonny Lawson said. “Our No. 1, Bryce, he struggled today. He's typically a low- to mid-40 shooter, so he definitely struggled a bit today."

Oliver posted a team-best 92 for 18 holes last Saturday at Rossville's first competition of the year, the Harrison Invitational. The Hornets finished 13th of 16 teams at the event. 

“I look for us to be a 360, 365 team (for 18 holes) this year. I think we have some potential to make a run at county and conference. I think Jacob and Bryce certainly have an opportunity at sectionals if they go out and play like they can, and maybe even Nathan.”

He was particularly pleased with Shafer's round on Monday and believes the best is yet to come for his freshman, Elston.

“We've got five that came back from last year, and Gavin Elston, our freshman, I think he's going to make some waves. He's going to be a really good player, very good demeanor.

“I'm super pleased with Nathan,” he added. “That's where he needs to be. He struggled a little bit last year and struggled starting out this year at the first tournament last Saturday. So, I'm pleased to see him in the 46 range and he can do even better.

“We're pretty balanced right now. It's unfortunate that I have six now competing for five spots.”

Like Rossville, Clinton Prairie has 10 golfers out for the season. Cullom was happy with their effort in their first competition.

“The score was fine for me early in the season,” he said. “This is the best weather we've had so far. Practices have been kind of tough with it being so cold and wet, but overall I was pleased.”

Along with McGraw's score, the Gophers had sophomore Wes Whitlock post 52 (a personal best ), with junior No. 2 player Evan Huelskamp and senior Reid Justus shooting 58s and senior R. Junior Blake Richardson shot a personal-best 59, which didn't enter into the team score.

“Grant has improved quite a bit,” Cullom said of McGraw. “Last year, he was probably in the high 40s and was working his way down to the mid-40s. He should be down to the 40 range here in a few weeks as we get more competition in. He's really worked in the offseason on his game, so he's really improved quite a bit.”

Prairie's junior varsity won 243-256 with senior Brock Fingerle and freshman Drew Blacker having personal-best 58s. Freshman Garrett McGraw also had a personal best of 63, with freshman Brennen Butler and sophomore Evan Marty doing likewise with 64 and 65 respectively. 

Prairie next plays a home match against Frontier at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. They host county rival Clinton Central on April 24, with the Hoosier Heartland Conference tournament on May 11 and the county tourney on May 23. Sectionals are June 1 at West Lafayette.

Rossville will compete in the Twin Lakes Invitational on Saturday starting at 10 a.m. and travel to play Delphi on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. They play Clinton Central at Angel Hill on May 6, with the same dates as Prairie for conference, county and sectionals.