LAPORTE | Tears flowed down the cheeks of Boone Grove boys golf coach Gary King on Friday as he tried to address his team's first state finals berth.
The Wolves carded a 315 to take the third and final qualifying spot at the LaPorte Regional.
"It's been a long time," said King, who's in his 11th year as coach. "We've been so close before. I just didn't know if we would make it. I'm just stunned."
Boone Grove has qualified for the regional nine times during King's tenure. It missed out on state qualification by a single stroke in 2009.
The host Slicers picked up their first regional title since 1992 by carding a 299, while defending champion Valparaiso was second at 308. Crown Point senior Nick Grubnich defended his medalist crown with a season-low 3-under-par 69.
The opening round of the state finals takes place Tuesday at the Legends of Indiana Golf Course in Franklin.
Junior Drake Devereux led the Wolves with a 74, which included a 1-under 35 on the front. Senior Tyler Nicol, an individual state qualifier last season, added a 75.
"The kids were determined to do it," King said. "(Devereux's 35) helped get the team going. I was able to talk to the other guys (at the turn) and tell them that they also needed to step up."
The Slicers' regional title is the first for 10th-year LaPorte coach Bill Hart. Jordan Lenard carded a 70, while teammate Joel Collins was also under par with a 71.
Hart said the pressure of being the host team has been a problem in the past, but it wasn't the case this time.
"Our players tend to try to hit the hero shot, trying to do things they've only done once or twice before," Hart said. "I told them to take a stroke if they needed to and focus on fairways, greens and putts. They didn't seem to try to do anything else."
The brother tandem of Andrew and Michael Gariup gave Valparaiso a much-needed lift. Andrew, a sophomore, had a team-low 73 at No. 4, while his senior brother Michael shot an 81 at No. 5.
"We've struggled at Nos. 4-5 for a bit," said Valparaiso coach Wayne Lichtenberger, who hoped for at least one 80 from the duo. "They blew it out of the water this time."
The siblings were happy to lend a hand.
"I was great with up-and-downs," Andrew said. "Everything fell together."
"I thought I owed it to the team to help them make it to state," said Michael, who won a playoff this week for the fifth spot. "It's definitely a plus my brother also did well."
Grubnich continued his stellar play this season with three birdies on his round.
"I could've had a 65 with a few putts, but I'm not going to complain about it," he said. "Last year, I felt like I played scared a lot. This year, I just go out and play."
Rensselaer's Bo Culp carded a 72 and endured a four-hour wait to find out if he had claimed the final individual qualifying spot.
"I saw a lot of fist-pumping (at No. 18), so I thought there were a lot of guys going low," he said. "It feels pretty good now."