Stars settle for fifth in BNL Invitational at Otis

BNL’s Jett Jones carded a solid 76 during the BNL Invitational at Otis Park on Saturday. The Stars finished fifth in the 13-team field. Courtesy photo

By Justin Sokeland

BEDFORD – To paraphrase the immortal baseball legend Yogi Berra, golf is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical. Bedford North Lawrence learned that lesson during its annual Invitational.

Playing on the familiar and friendly ground of Otis Park, the Stars finished a disappointing fifth in the 13-team field on Saturday. Columbus North won the team title with 313, followed by Bloomington North (320), Jasper (321) and Brownstown (326). BNL also shot 326 but slipped back on the fifth-man tiebreaker.

Golf can be a cruel taskmaster, humbling even the best. The game is hard enough when things go well, it can be brutal when the course starts winning the battle and the mental demons howl. Fighting through that adversity makes a huge difference at the end of the round.

BNL had bright spots. Jett Jones posted a solid 76 that included birdies on the fifth and eighth holes during a front-side 38, and another birdie on 14 during a back-nine 38. He was fourth among the individuals. Colton Staggs carded an 80 that featured a birdie on the par-5 fifth.

“Colton and Jett didn’t have their best stuff, but they grinded it out,” BNL coach Jeff Hein said. “They got the most they could out of their rounds. They were just competing, they kept trying, kept giving an effort and didn’t get frustrated, didn’t do anything silly. That’s why they ended up with the scores they did.

“Some of the rest of us didn’t do that. Our body language wasn’t very good, our demeanor wasn’t very good, our approach wasn’t very good.”

BNL’s Colton Staggs cracks a tee shot while posting an 80 on Saturday. Courtesy photo

BNL’s scoring was capped by Tyler Bellush with 83 and Drew McKee with 87.

“We can look at the swings and putting strokes, but until we mature as a team, and learn from Jett and Colton that you don’t always have your best stuff, move on to the next shot, we won’t get better,” Hein said. “We need some help beyond the kids who have been steady all year.

“We’re not professionals, we won’t hit every shot perfect. When we learn that, it will help us lower our scores.”

The course did surrender some quality numbers. New Albany’s Blaine Hamilton shot a 1-under 71 (with seven birdies during a tumultuous tour) to earn medalist honors. Bloomington North’s Jacon Knapp and Simon Deliyannis both fired 75s. Columbus North won the title because it had three scores in the 70s.

“I thought we would play better,” Hein said. “The course was there for the taking, and we didn’t take advantage of a great opportunity. That’s the only 18-hole invitational we play at home, so we would have liked to have played better.”

BNL faces some work. If the sectional were held now, the Stars would be in jeopardy of missing out on one of the three team qualifying spots for the regional. With No.3 Bloomington South as the overwhelming favorite in the sectional, BNL must find a way to leap over Bloomington North and Brownstown. Fortunately there is still time to accomplish that.

“Here’s the situation we’re in,” Hein said. “North and Brownstown are playing better than us right now, and those two teams are in our sectional. We have to figure something out, or we won’t make it out. It’s that simple. Do we want to play in the regional? We have to be mentally tougher to compete. You can’t let a mistake early in the round affect you later on.”

BNL will Brownstown and Edgewood on Thursday.

* In the middle school tournament that followed the high school event, Bedford’s Evan Tillett shot a 72 to earn medalist honors by seven shots. Bedford North Lawrence finished third as a team with 385.