Noblesville High School 2019 graduate Clay Merchent did his best to chase down Carmel’s Nick Dentino.
He caught him but just couldn’t overtake him.
Merchent rallied on the 18th hole to tie Dentino for first place in the IHSAA boys golf state finals June 12 at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel. However, Dentino prevailed in a one-hole playoff to take the top individual honors.
Merchant said he played a bit sloppy in the first round to begin the final round two strokes behind Dentino.
“I knew I had to put up a good number,” Merchent said. “I knew Nick wasn’t going to just give it to me. He’s a solid player. He’s a bulldog. I played the best round I could, got in a playoff.”
On the one-hole playoff back on the 18th hole, Merchent parred while Dentino birdied for the victory.
“I should have put up more of a fight, but he’s a good player and I gave it a shot,” he said.
Merchent shot 4-under par 68 in the second round after opening with an even-par 72 for a 140 total. Dentino shot 70 both rounds.
The Millers gave it a shot as well, finishing tied with Center Grove for second place with 605 strokes. Carmel repeated as state champions with a score of 588, only 12 strokes over par as a team.
“These kids all year have competed,” Noblesville coach Gary Deakyne said. “Everybody knew Carmel was the best team in the state. We did everything we could to try to chase them down. Center Grove is a heck of a team and we caught up with (the Trojans). It’s a testament to these kids for not ever giving up. There were times out there when things were tough. They kept plugging away and we brought some hardware home.”
All five of golfers in the starting lineup graduated June 7.
“It’s a great day. It’s a happy, sad day,” an emotional Deakyne said afterward.
One of those graduates was Deakyne’s son, Jake, who had the second-lowest score on the team in the finals with a 152. Joe Whallon was one shot behind with 153. Other Noblesville scores were Chris Scheib with 161 and Jaxon Stutz with 163.
Merchent understood why coach Deakyne, a former Noblesville golfer himself, took it hard.
“He almost wants it more than we do, for us not just for himself,” Merchent said.
Merchent plans to play in college but hasn’t yet committed.