The Indians are back in Bowling Green for the first time in four years.
And that’s something to be excited about.
But this time around, they aren’t content just to earn another trip to the state tournament.
“Just making the cut the first day is not something we are looking for,” Central golf coach Tim Stephens said. “We are looking to win it. We are not going to settle just to make it there. This is something we’ve been looking forward to all year.”
After defeating defending state champion Lexington Christian Academy at last week’s Region 9 Tournament, the goal is simple.
Win a state title.
“I have a feeling that when we come back to Richmond we could be state champs,” Central senior Kyle Congleton said. “I know that if we go down there and play like we can, we could be state champs.”
The Indians’ quest for a title begins today when the KHSAA State Golf Championship gets under way at the Bowling Green Country Club.
The top 12 teams and the 20 individuals with the lowest scores after the first day will move on to Wednesday’s final round.
The Indians will be considered among the favorites for the title along with St. Xavier, St. Mary’s, Lexington Christian and West Jessamine.
Central secured a spot in the state meet with a thrilling victory last Monday over LCA at Gibson Bay. The Indians shot a 298, beating out the Eagles for the school’s first regional title since 2007.
Congleton and Dylan Kelley both shot even-par 72s to lead Central to the title. Congleton also took the individual title by hitting a birdie putt on the first hole of a five-person playoff, which included Kelley.
Congleton, a senior, is set to make his third trip to the state tournament (2007, 2011 - team, 2010 - individual).
“I’ve been there,” Congleton said. “I feel like I’ve got to lead these guys and be a good role model.”
Congleton has a long, impressive resume filled with success at the high school and amateur level.
At last year’s state tournament, the senior shot a +11, 83 and did not make the cut.
“He’s our leader,” Stephens said of Congleton. “He’s a clutch player. He knows when he has to get it done.”
Congleton is the leader, but Central is deep and talented. Three juniors (John Cornelison, Devan Gabbard and Kelley) and an outstanding eighth-grader (Carter Skipworth).
Gabbard shot a 76 at the regional.
“He’s a tremendous talent,” Stephens said of Gabbard. “He hits the ball a long way. He’s been our low scorer at several events this year.”
Kelley had a shot at an individual regional title last week and his creativity and imagination will work to his advantage the next couple of days.
“I think this course will suit Dylan as well as anybody,” Stephens said. “We are looking for Dylan to really shine.”
Just an eighth-grader, Skipworth has already developed into a intelligent and clutch golfer. He certainly turned some heads by shooting a 78 last week at the regional.
“He’s maturing tremendously and he will probably be one of the better golfers to ever come through Madison Central,” Stephens said of Skipworth.
Cornelison has tremendous strength and has the ability to post big-time numbers when playing with confidence.
“He’s a big, solid golfer with a lot of experience,” Stephens said. “He is capable of shooting really low scores.”
The Indians got a chance to play the course at the Bowling Green Country Saturday and also participated in an invitational earlier this year.
It’s a difficult course, but the Indians believe they are up for the challenge.
“I feel like we’ve all got a great feel for the course,” Congleton said. “It sets up perfect for all of us.”