It was argubaly the most exciting boys golf season in recent memory this past spring. Crawfordsville and Southmont went toe to toe at seemingly every meet they met up at. The two county rivals first met up at the Danville Invite and each tied one another by each shooting a 349. The Athenians would get the better of the Mounties at the Southmont Invite by six strokes as the two schools took the top two spots. Fast forward to the Sagamore Conference meet at Rocky Ridge and it would be the same close battle with this time the Mounties edging out CHS by a single stroke for third. When the county chase title was on the line at the county meet the Athenians would best the Mounties by two strokes 347-349 to claim the county crown.
The fifth rendetion of the competitive rivalry would take place at the sectional at Harrison Hills where the Mounties would claim the first sectional championship since 2001 with a 345 edging out Greencastle by a single stroke. Crawfordsville would take thrid with a 352 as both the Mounties and Athenians would battle one more time in Regional. In the final meeting of the year it would be CHS besting Southmont as the Athenians shot a season best 342 while the Mounties ended with a 371.
The respect between the two teams is mutal as is the competition between the top golfers on each side in Southmont’s Nolan Allen and Crawfordsville’s Luke Ranard. The two are actually neigbors and routinely keep each other trying to improve their game.
They were the best golfers on two stellar teams. Their friendship and competitiveness with each other has paid off for them both. Ranard and Allen are the 2022 Journal Review Co-Golfers of the Year.
“Luke and I grew up knowing each other and we both love to play golf and ended up going to different schools, so that makes it a little extra fun,” Allen said of friendly rivalry between him and Ranard. “We have a mutal respect with each other and that goes the same way with our teams. That all makes for a great friendly rivalry between all of us. I honestly prefer it be this way than sometimes being angry at another school.”
What adds to the comradrey between the the Athenians and Mounties is that both Southmont coach Bill Whalen and Crawfordsville coach Tom Perkins have known each other for quite some time and for both of their teams to go back and forth this past season made the season that much more enjoyable that both teams were having great amounts of success.
“To be able to go through this past season with Tom has been a lot of fun,” Whalen said. “Theres a high mutual respect as Nolan said between our two schools and North Montgomery as well with what coach Ryker did with them this year. It’s fun to have rivalries like this that aren’t heated and all three of us in the county knew that if we wanted to beat the other one that we’d have to step up and play our best golf to do it.”
For Perkins and Ranard the feeling, as expected is extremely mutual. While Ranard has seen individual success in his career with the Athenians, this season with how good the rest of the team was around him made for a senior season that he’ll remember for quite sometime.
“I hadn’t really experienced being on a competitive team before this year,” he said. “You combine that with competitive South and we were all season and it made the year so much fun. It did hurt at the sectional but we were able to get them back in the Regional. I feel like we each made each other better because of how talented both of our teams were this year.”
For Perkins this past season saw the culimination of years of hard work as the Athenians were able to put all of the pieces of the puzzle together. The talent of players like Ranard and fellow seniors in Landon Timmons and Landon Hurt, combined with the play of stud freshman Tanner Gilland, and CHS golf had its most successful season in many years.
“First of all, we’ve used Southmont as kind of the template of where we wanted to get as a program,” Perkins said. “We’ve been competitive with them before but they’ve always had the depth. This year we had the depth and prided ourselves on consistency. Our highest round was a 360 and our lowest was a 342 at the Regional. When we played South we always tried to take it up a notch as did they. What we were most proud of was in our final match of the year at the Regional, we had the lowest score of the three teams that advanced out of our sectional (Southmont and Greencastle).
Allen while he has one final year left with the Mounties knew coming into this season that he would have to take on more of a leadership role..
“He led by example and has a tremendous work ethic towards the game,” Whalen said of Allen. “Personally I’ve never seen him mad on the course and anytime he has a bad hole, he comes back to make pars and birdies. Nolan is the type of athlete that knows that he wants to be good and goes out and works at it.”
Ranard receives the same praise from Perkins as he now sees his high school career come to an end.
“Luke raised the bar for everyone every year,” Perkins said. “This whole team 2022 led by Luke and these seniors will be rememberd for never giving up.”
Ranard will continue his golf career at Wabash while Allen is looking forward to his senior year.
The boys golf scene in Montgomery County this spring will be talked about as one that no one forgets for many years to come.
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