As a freshman, Mike Lee was one shot away from qualifying for the state golf state individually, shooting a 73 at the LaPorte Regional last season.
Perhaps even more devastating was that his Crown Point team came just five shots away from qualifying as a squad last season.
With the goal of reaching Indiana high school golf's grandest stage firmly set in his mind, Lee fired a 74 at Friday's Lafayette Jefferson Regional, a score good enough to advance him to the first round of the state meet that starts at 7 a.m. today at The Legends Golf Club in Franklin.
"It means everything," Lee said. "That was the plan this season to get down there. I thought I was going to get in last year and when I didn't, it really hurt."
Lee's confidence this season in the new regional was much higher than his freshman season. However, the nerves were still present in the young sophomore.
"I knew the competition," Lee said. "There were better teams in (this regional) than last year. I knew it was going to be tougher than last year so I had to step up my game."
Although the Bulldogs finished fifth as a team with 312 strokes and fell short of qualifying for state again, Crown Point coach Jon Haas knows sending kids to the state meet is a definite step in the right direction for both the boys and girls golf programs.
"It's important for not only him, but our whole program," Haas said. "We had a freshman state qualifier in the fall (Tiffany Curtis) and now a sophomore in the spring, and hopefully this is a sign of things to come."
A tough schedule had the Bulldogs facing teams from all over Indiana, not just the Duneland Athletic Conference. On May 25, the Bulldogs won the Lafayette Jefferson Classic at Battle Ground with a 299 team score. It was this event, and facing numerous strong teams throughout the season, that prepared Lee for his run to state.
"It set up pretty much the same as the regional did," Lee said. "I had a good idea of the greens, where the tee boxes were going to be and where my shot placement had to be. It was really good to get down there and play."
The excitement of competing against the very best at The Legends is apparent, and Lee is ready to post a strong showing at state and use the experience for the years to come.
"I want to figure out everything at state so when junior year and senior year come I can just play better," Lee said. "I've got to get the nerves out of me."