A great friendly rivalry on the links

Jeffery, Gilland earn JR Co-Golfers of the Year


There was little that separated them on the golf course this past spring as North Montgomery’s Neal Jeffery and Crawfordsville’s Tanner Gilland were the two best in Montgomery County. Both had an 18-hole average of 78 as each of them had their moments. Early in the season both shot a 76 at the Covington Invite and they tied again with strong showings at the Sagamore Conference meet with 73’s. At the county meet, Gilland shot a 78 with Jeffery carding an 82, at the sectional Jeffery got the best of Gilland with a 77 with Gilland shooting an 80. In their final meeting of the season at the Regional the duo tied for the third time this season with an 89.

This season was the first time that both Gilland and Jeffery got to play with each other as Jeffery moved up to the No. 1 spot for the Chargers. Both being juniors and great golfers to boot, it was the beginning of a friendly rivalry.

“Neal and I really didn’t know each other that much coming into this year, but of course playing with one another as often as we did we got to know each other pretty well,” Gilland said. “Playing with someone who is just as good as you are, it makes you try a little harder out there on the course. He’s become not just someone who I compete against, but a really good friend to play with.”

Jeffery echoes that same sentiment for Gilland as the two friends simply made each other better.

“It’s really nice to have someone like Tanner who pushes you as much as you push them,” he said. “Being the No. 1 golfer on my own team, that comes with the expectation that you’re going to go out every single time and have a good round. There’s so much good golf in our conference and Tanner and I are up there with the best of them so it makes things a little easier knowing that we both do everything we can to make each other better.”

With just a fraction of an inch separating the two junior golfers this past season, and the friendship that they developed, it’s only fitting the both Gilland and Jeffery have earned the title of 2024 Journal Review Co-Boys Golfer of the Year.

Both coaches noted how their players led by example for each of their teams this past spring as well. Crawfordsville coach Tom Perkins and North Montgomery Coach Bob Ryker relied on Gilland and Jeffery and they delivered. Gilland led a fairly young Athenian team this past season while Jeffery helped guide the Chargers to a runner-up finish in the SAC while also advancing the team to the Regional for the second straight season.

“You knew what you were getting out of Neal every single time out,” Ryker said. “He works constantly on his game and really took that big step forward this year. One of his best highlights was going to Lebanon and shooting a 78 and tying for 11th with some of the best in the state. I just expect him to continue to get better and have a great senior year.”

Perkins  joined Ryker in speaking highly of his golfer.

“Getting to watch Tanner lead this team has been a pleasure,” Perkins said. “He’s really learned how to lead by getting to have the likes of a Luke Ranard and Landon Timmons his freshman year.  Now he comes to the course every single day and is ready to help our younger guys and that’s probably his best quality. He holds himself to a high standard and even when he has a good round, he finds things in his game that he can improve on. It’s going to be a real exciting season next year watching both him and Neal and even (Austin) Foley at South battle like they all three did this year.”

Both Gilland and Jeffery know that next spring will be their last in high school. There’s still plenty for both of these talented golfers to accomplish.

“I know that I’m going to have to leave it all out on the table,” Gilland said of his upcoming senior season. “I’m going to attack each day and each meet with everything I have. I know the skill set that I have and I have to use that to my advantage. As a team we’re going to have some more new faces but I’m going to continue to help them the best I can.”

The Chargers will have a bulk of their team back for next season and look to continue the success they’ve built the last two years. Jeffery will continue to be a large part of that success and talks about his upcoming senior year.

“I know that the team and I have a lot of goals that we want to accomplish,” he said. “The big ones obviously being winning county, conference and the sectional. The work towards those goals starts right now in the off-season. I want this last year to be the best one yet.”

Both Jeffery and Gilland set the stage this spring for what should be an exciting senior season for the two good friends.