WICHITA, Kas. — The first tournament of the fall season was one Indian Hills golf fans could look at from a "glass half empty" or "glass half full" perspective.
Sure, the Warriors did lose an overnight lead at Newman University’s Martin Park Fall Invitational to Oklahoma Christian. A final round 298 team total by Indian Hills was five shots higher than the four-year Division II national title hopeful, allowing Oklahoma Christian to turn a three-shot deficit into a two-shot victory over IHCC for the team championship with a six-over par 582 total.
However, considering that only two of the Warriors on the course at Reflection Ridge Monday and Tuesday had any previous experience playing intercollegiate golf, perhaps a runner-up team finish to open the fall season isn’t so bad.
“There are mixed feelings about it,” Indian Hills head coach Mike Hagen said. “You never like to lose. You always compete to win, but we had a lot of young guys competing for us. To have those guys putting in position to compete with a DII power like Oklahoma Christian is saying something for our first meet out.
“There are clearly some things we need to work on. We didn’t necessarily play the par fives as well as we could have (on Tuesday), but that’s one of those things that will come with time and work.”
Indian Hills may not have brought home the team championship, but the most experienced golfer on the team showed some of that poise when it counted to bring home the individual title on Tuesday. Sophomore Colin Pearson won a thrilling three-way battle for meet medalist honors, birding the final two holes to edge out Newman’s James Bolton and Cameron’s Dylan McClure by just one shot.
Pearson won the medalist honor in style. After a birdie by Bolton forced a three-way tie on the final hole, Pearson drained an eight-foot birdie on 18 to avoid a playoff.
“I couldn’t be happier for Colin,” Hagen said. “He had to play two solid rounds of golf and had to make two clutch shots to win.”
Indian Hills will return to links for the fall portion of its season in two weeks at the John A. Logan Fall Invitational. The first round tees off on Sunday, Sept. 22.
“I think one of the positives is we played well in the first round and gave ourselves a chance to win going into the final round,” Hagen said. “Now, we just need to learn how to close out the win. We just need to get healthy and see what we can learn from as we had to John A. Logan.”
Newman University Martin Park Fall Invitational
At Reflection Ridge Course
Team scoring — 1. Oklahoma Christian 293-289-582, 2. Indian Hills 290-294-584, 3. Cameron University 302-287-589, 4. Texas A&M-Commerce 309-293-602, 5. Newman University 299-304-603, 6. Arkansas-Fort Smith 306-314-620, 7. Oklahoma Panhandle State 330-330-660.
Medalist — Colin Pearson 68-70-148.
Runner-up — James Bolton (Newman) 70-69-149 and Dylan McClure (Cameron) 70-69-149.
IHCC individuals — 1. Pearson 68-70-148, 5. Jakob Garstecki 75-69-144, T17. Harrison Moore 73-77-150, T20. Luke Monson 74-78-152, T27. Greg Stanek 76-79-155, T29. Josh Smith 78-78-156.