PERFECTION! Ravens Reign as State Champion: Complete Second Day Comeback To Complete Dream Season
Submitted by Zach Ulin/KCII
During the 2023 season, the Hillcrest Academy Raven golf team found the formula for success. Steady starts, strong finishes and consistent scoring throughout the lineup. This week, it was all on display at the Ames Golf and Country Club for the Class 1A State Golf Championships, as Hillcrest closed out an unbeaten dream season with the program’s first ever state championship.On day one, as the Ravens adjusted to the pressure and their new surroundings, they shot a 53-over-par 337 as a team, 165 on the front and 172 on the back, holding third place. Freshman Rowan Miller paced the Ravens through their opening 18 with a 10-over-par 81. Hillcrest was looking up at Remsen-St. Mary’s 336 and leader CAM, Anita with their 335. With a two shot margin to erase, the Ravens came out on day two trying to find traction.
Tuesday started slowly for Hillcrest as well, posting an opening nine 166, they fell to fifth place at the turn with their 503 team score and Remsen-St. Marys in the lead at 500. Following their front nine, Hillcrest head coach Phil Schintler joined KCII Sports in the clubhouse in Ames to talk about the keys for his team down the stretch. “We’re sitting better than we were yesterday. We just have to manage the last nine holes. We get stronger I think as we play any tournament. I think if anything is going to work in our favor, it’s that.”
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Submitted by Coach Phil Schintler
In 1954, almost 70 years ago, a small farm community high school basketball team in Milan, Indiana did nearly the impossible. With only 161 students and a 19-2 record, Milan cruised through the basketball playoffs. In true epic fashion at the championship game, Milan would win the state title with a last second shot. It would later be called the “Milan miracle”. A blockbuster movie starring Gene Hackman would eventually hit the big screen to loosely portray this basketball team, “Hoosiers”.
Fast forward 69 years to May of 2023. A small rural Christian high school in Iowa, in fact, one of the smallest high schools in the state with only 59 students, making it to the Iowa State high school golf championships. They completed an undefeated regular season that included a conference title blowout. Reporters were saying the Ravens weren’t beating teams, they were crushing them. Hillcrest would go on to win the Sectional and District titles to extend their winning streak to 44-0 heading into the state tournament. How was this dream season going to end? The Ravens came in to win it. Not a runner up. Not a third. Definitely not a participation banner. They wanted the big flag for the school.
Day 1 the Ravens played just average after their first 18 holes. Nothing spectacular and only found themselves two shots back of the lead with a 337 team score. All but one struggled out of the first tee box in front of the crowd, but they eventually settled down.
Day two started off in the worst possible fashion. 5 of 6 Raven first tee shots in front of the crowd were either out of bounds or in the woods. Very uncharacteristic of this team. Nerves were rattled and they were still feeling pressure. Rowan Miller was the Raven golfer playing extremely well. Most of the day he would be under par playing outstanding golf. Jace Rempel was holding his own playing tough golf hanging with his counterparts in his threesome from Remsen St. Mary’s and CAM H.S. Luke and Liam Schrock could not catch a break and were struggling. Nothing was dropping for them. Seth Ours and Josiah Beachy were playing well, but not a lot was going their way either. After the 9th hole with only 9 holes left, the Ravens would find themselves in 5th place in a field of 10, several strokes back of the lead. Hillcrest had never played from behind the entire year. So much at stake. They were always reminded to never give up.
Then the magic happened that may be one of the greatest comebacks in golf. Rowan continued to shoot lights out. Veteran Jace Rempel held his own with CAM and Remsen St. Mary’s best golfers by playing solid golf down the stretch. Luke and Liam Schrock would combine 7 birdies between them on the back nine. They both shot under par for the last 9. With just 4 holes left, the Ravens had recaptured the lead. Jace, Liam, Luke and Rowan would combine for an astounding 147 on the last 9 holes, their best nine whole half all year. They managed their nerves the last hole and the team finished with a second day 18 hole total of 313, their best 18 hole team round of the year. They finished with a 650 for the tournament and their first state title in golf, edging 2nd place West Fork H.S. by 5 strokes.
53-0. You can’t write this script any better. No embellishments needed. So many true and heartwarming stories throughout the year. People at home on their phones checking “our” scores as they updated on the internet. Undefeated season, state title with an epic comeback and much more. Way better than “Hoosiers”. Maybe they’ll make a movie about us someday. It would be a fantastic story. But if they don’t, there will be Raven players, coaches, family and friends who were there that when every time they see a golf ball, the magical season will replay over and over in their heads.
Individual scores for both days:
Jace Rempel 84,82 (166)
Luke Schrock 85,75 (160)
Rowan Miller 81,75 (156)
Liam Schrock 88,81 (169)
Seth Ours 87,99 (186)
Josiah Beachy 96,91 (187)
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