FORT WAYNE – Bishop Dwenger's boys golf team has a simple goal.
“We're looking to win state this year,” junior John Hope said.
So far, the Saints look like a contender.
The Saints won the sectional at Chestnut Hills Golf Club with a 3-over 291, beating second-place Homestead by eight strokes Friday afternoon.
Despite being the area team that fared the best last year – Dwenger placed seventh at the state finals – and being the only state-ranked team in northeast Indiana at No. 6, the Saints didn't take anything for granted before they arrived at 6,500-yard Chestnut Hills.
And they captured a sectional trophy for the seventh time in nine years.
“It helps when you lose a couple times. We had a couple losses this season and we try not to get too ahead of ourselves,” said Hope, who tied for medalist honors with a 1-under 71 and defeated Homestead's Chris Eigner in a sudden-death playoff with a par on the par-4 first hole.
The SAC-champion Saints were 14-1 in dual matches, losing to Carroll, and only NorthWood beat them in 18-hole tournaments.
At Chestnut Hills, the Saints got a 72 from Patrick Allgeier, a 73 from Callahan Elzey and a 75 from James Wagner. The score they threw out, Spencer Gillig's 76, would have been tops on nine of the 13 competing teams.
“We can count on each other if one of us plays bad. We'll get each other's backs,” Gillig said. “If you come in with a high score, the rest of the team will be low. All year, we've been in the 290 range, so it's been a great year and that's all you can ask for.”
By placing in the top three with a 317, Canterbury advanced to Thursday's regional at Stonehenge Golf Club in Warsaw. Bishop Luers missed advancing by one stroke, though Joe Korjenek advanced as an individual with a 76. So did Wayne's Brett Reuille with a 75 and Heritage's Nick Bienz with a 76.
Homestead, which won the NHC title, broke 300 for the first time this season.
“This gives us confidence going into regionals,” said Eigner, who got into trouble in the playoff when his tee shot went into a bunker.
Homestead's Alec Cunningham posted a 72, while Nick Myers and Eric Martin shot 78s.
“This feels really good. We've worked really hard this year for that (sub-300 tournament),” Cunningham said. “To finally get it at the end of the season, it couldn't be a better time. … It's a pretty open course, but there are a couple holes where you need to keep those (drivers) in the bag. It worked out well, and we didn't have to take too many penalty strokes.”
Canterbury was paced by Michael Brothers' 73, while Christopher Noe and Jimmy Shantz had 81s. Trevor Uhl added an 82.
But only Homestead had a chance to catch Bishop Dwenger before falling off on the last few holes. The Saints, who lost only Casey Cooney to graduation after last season, seem primed to make another run toward the state finals.
“We just knew after last season that we were losing one guy and we'd come back a lot better,” Hope said.