CARMEL — Crown Point senior Connor Proudman pushed his roller bag off the 10th green at Prairie View Golf Club with a grin on his face.
Immediately, fellow classmate Bryant Callander embraced Proudman, as the two hugged it out in celebration of their high school careers. Freshman Isaac Embry greeted Proudman with a fist bump, congratulating his teammate on his final par to close out the state finals.
Crown Point headed to Carmel for its first state appearance since 2000 hoping to make noise, but a 94-over 670 landed it in 13th place. That didn't dampen their spirits much.
Players sat with coach Ryan Bishop just off the 10th green chopping it up and cheering on Proudman when he placed his approach shot about 25 feet from the hole. Junior Finn Kiger quipped that maybe he should stick to regionals, where Kiger's 75 put him among the top individuals.
“Honestly, it was a dream season, because we hadn't made state the last three years,” Proudman said. “Being able to come out here and make state my senior year — and I didn't put up any solid rounds or anything, but it was just fun being here.”
The Bulldogs said all along that their main goal this season was to advance to state. Bishop has said he feels Crown Point was overlooked coming into the season, yet the team asserted itself as Northwest Indiana's best. As the Bulldogs stacked strong performances against Region opponents, they built confidence.
“I didn't put us on the "Indy Tour," so to speak,” Bishop said. “We didn't go further than Lafayette during the regular season, but that allowed us to win four times.”
Junior Mikey Pinchok led Crown Point with a 163 less than two weeks after claiming individual gold at sectionals. The Bulldogs improved slightly from Tuesday to Wednesday, shooting 337 and 333, respectively.
Bishop and Proudman said they're optimistic about the future, thanks in part to incoming freshman Ray Filter, whom Bishop said projects as his best golfer. Embry already cracked the varsity squad. Kiger posted C.P.'s lowest regional score, while Pinchok led the team at sectionals and state.
Even after C.P.'s best season in years, the team could be better in 2020. If the Bulldogs make it back to state, they'll be prepared.
“They got to do a lot of cool stuff they never got to do, and then they get down (to state) and they're like, 'Holy crap, coach.'” Bishop said of his underclassmen. “Every D-1 coach from here to Ohio was there this (week). No one comes and watches us play during the regular season.
“I think my kids realize how big the stage was and how bright the spotlight was now that they've experienced it.”