IR golf nabs third in Henlopen Conference Championship, prepares for state tourney
Last season, Indian River’s varsity golf team finished 11-2. This season, they rounded out the schedule 9-4. Though it wasn’t an improvement, the Indians made sure to prove that their season record wasn’t a deviation from their potential. And they went out this Monday, and locked up a third-place showing at the Henlopen Conference Championship, held at Peninsula Golf Club in Dover. The only teams to best them were the undefeated defending state champs, Caesar Rodney, and the 13-2 Ravens of Sussex Tech.
Caesar Rodney finished on top of the 18-hole round with a combined score of 321 from their six starters. Sussex Tech shot 348, while the Indians secured a solid 365, edging Cape Henlopen (376) and Delmar (393), though each of them had defeated Indian River earlier this year. The Indians’ stand-out golfer was Christian Constantino, who shot his lowest score of the year at the conference championship.
“We ended up right where I thought our potential was,” said Indian River head coach Paris Mitchell. “I was hoping our team would come out and get past Cape and Delmar this time, and they did. Delmar played well this season, to win the Southern Division, but we’re right there with them. And by grabbing third place, we qualified, as a team, for the state tournament, which is a really big accomplishment.”
Matches throughout the regular season are played in nine holes, while the conference and state tournament consist of multiple rounds.
“I think, for the most part,” said Mitchell, “having the kids play 18 holes instead of nine can get overwhelming for some of them. I saw a lot of golfers shoot well in the first nine holes, but a number of the scores would go up a little bit by Hole 13 and 14.”
Such was not the case for Constantino, however, who shot a lower second round, improving throughout the day.
Indian River standout Taylor Lewis was recognized with a Second-Team All-Conference selection for her performance this year. Of the team’s 13 matches this year, Lewis shot the lowest score, overall, in eight matches, earning medalist or co-medalist.
The Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association (DIAA) High School Golf Tournament will be held at Wild Quail Country Club, starting Tuesday, May 29.
“It will be interesting to see how we match up in the state tournament,” said Mitchell. “We’re seeded 15th going into it, and Delmar is seeded eighth. I think we can play at least as well as them. Some of the upstate teams, like Caesar Rodney and Salesianum, will be fighting it out, but if we play well, we might be able to get in that seventh- to 10th-place range.”
Although the Indians will be returning some players, the majority of the starters, including Cristian Constantino and Taylor Lewis, will be graduating next week, forcing Mitchell to rework a starting lineup.
“I’d like to see a lot, next season, out of Tyler Culver, Chris Chapdelaine and Christian’s brother, Dominic,” Mitchell noted. “Dominic will return as a senior next year and will likely take the role of team captain. He’s a great leader. I’m expecting us to be competitive in the south, again, but I’ll need some help from the guys coming back.”
Seniors made up nearly the entire roster this season, so Mitchell hopes that, next season, the players can recruit others to come out for the team.
“I’m really trying to get our returning players to do some recruiting,” he said. “If not, we won’t have enough to field a team. Fortunately, they all have friends that they can talk to, and they all seem to know a student who will be a freshman next year who’s really good on a course.”
“Lots of kids still don’t realize that Indian River even has a team,” he added. “All the kids who come out have an equal chance to make the team. Hopefully, kids seeing how well we played in the conference championship, and seeing that we made the state tournament, will spark some interest. I’d like to pick up some more talent next year.”