Eagles Golf Team Rounds Off Memorable Season With State Finals Appearance
Writer: Jon Shoulders
Throughout his 28 years as a high school coach, Steve Simmons has led many a special group of athletes. However, he feels like his boys golf squad at Zionsville Community High School this year has a combination of camaraderie and skill he’s seldom seen before.
“Their team chemistry is exceptional – maybe the best I’ve ever had,” says Simmons, who has served for 13 years as the Eagles boys coach. “I’ve had a couple close-knit groups, but this group is very special and has grown close to each other during the year. It’s also been one of the most coachable groups I’ve ever had.”
Such collective rapport, coupled with a high level of talent led by seniors Joey Ranieri, Lucas Beck and Drew Wood, propelled the Eagles to a sectional championship, a second-place performance at regionals and their first trip to the state finals since 2012.
After clinching sectionals with a score of 293, the team showed up in strong form for the Lafayette Jefferson regional competition at Battle Ground Golf Club on June 7, finishing second behind Carmel and punching their ticket to state. Ranieri and Beck led Zionsville’s regional effort with a 71 and a 75 at respectively, while Wood and freshman Colin Nasser both finished with a 76 and junior Reid Von Dielingen scored an 80.
Earlier in the season, the Eagles took home first place at the Hoosier Crossroads Conference tournament in May with a score of 296, thanks to a strong back-nine performance in a highly competitive field.
Simmons says Nasser provided a key ingredient to the Eagles team chemistry early on in the season, complementing the senior leadership of Ranieri, Beck and Wood, who was all-state as a freshman.
“Going into the year we didn’t know who our number-five man was going to be, and we found that in Colin,” Simmons says. “Once we realized we had a great player like him for our fifth, we settled in and really relied on our three seniors who are probably among the 15 or 20 best in the state. To have that level of talent, there was always a lot of hope that we could compete.”
Ranieri will join the Ball State Cardinals golf team in the fall, while Beck, who transferred to Zionsville for the 2017-2018 school year from Lebanon where he was a three-time all-conference selection, will go on to play for Taylor University.
“A lot of people like to win, but it’s rare when you find five guys who really can’t stand to lose,” Simmons says of his team. “That’s been a big difference for us. We haven’t always gotten off to great starts in tournaments this year – at the regional we got off to a horrific start – but we were very resilient on back nines, and that’s gotten us far.”
Zionsville made a push for the state title on June 13, keeping it close until the last day of play. The Eagles finished third place with an overall team score of 606. Carmel took home the championship with a 601 score, edging out Center Grove by one stroke.