Both Warsaw and Wawasee hope to have at least another week of practice following the start of postseason play with sectional action this weekend.
The Tigers hope to make it a repeat performance as they host their own sectional event at the challenging Stonehenge Golf Club in Winona Lake.
Warsaw, winners of three of the last four sectional titles, will be shooting for no less than a top three finish and a spot in the East Noble Regional Sept. 22.
The Warriors expect to be in contention too in the nine-team field, which begins play at 9:30 a.m. Saturday. The sectional also includes a trio of strong teams in Culver Academy, Rochester and Plymouth. Rounding out the field are Triton, Tippecanoe Valley, Whitko and Columbia City.
Warsaw heads into sectional play fresh off a championship performance in the Northern Lakes Conference tournament last weekend at Bent Oak in Elkhart. The Tigers, led by Nikki LaLonde’s round of 88, captured first place with a team score of 373. The victory enabled the Tigers to share the overall league championship with NorthWood, which beat Warsaw in their head-to-head conference match.
The Tigers’ lineup features seniors Elizabeth Meadows, Morgan Sands and Ashley Murrell, junior Nikki LaLonde and sophomore Alexis Manwaring. Manwaring shot 98, LaLonde 102 and Sands 103 a year ago as Warsaw shot 386 to win their own sectional. Rochester and Wawasee each shot 397, with the Zebras earning second place by virtue of their fifth-man tiebreaker score. The Tigers went on to place third at the regional in 2011 to qualify for the State Finals, where they missed the cut after the first of two rounds of play.
Warsaw coach Chris LaLonde is short, but to the point, on what her talented team needs to do on Saturday.
“We have to the best course management and we have to take one shot at a time,” said coach LaLonde. “The girls have to stay focused on every shot.”Wawasee coach Steve Coverstone knows it will be a challenge come Saturday.
“Our sectional has a very tough field,” said Coverstone. “Rochester is very good. Warsaw has a very balanced team. They would have to be the two favorites. Several teams will likely be battling for the third spot.
“Our number one goal is to be patient and play our games. We hope to reduce or eliminate the big hole. Our focus is only attempting shots that are within our capability. Stonehenge is tough. But it also is in excellent condition and the greens are true, so that should be to the player’s benefit.”
Wawasee’s sectional lineup should feature senior Alex Goralczyk, sophomore Elizabeth Jackson and freshmen Mikala Mawhorter, Kylee Rostochak and Kamryn Foy. The Warriors, led by a 93 from Goralczyk, shot 395 last Saturday to earn a third place finish at the NLC Tournament. Jackson shot a round of 101 and Goralczyk a 107 a year ago in sectional play at Stonehenge.
“Having people back who played for us in the sectional last year will be of help,” Coverstone said. “But we lost two of the people that scored well last year. Still, the girls know they can hold their own on a given day with most of the teams here. And they know that they can compete on this course.”
The Warriors faced host Warsaw and Plymouth in NLC action at Stonehenge on Aug. 28. Warsaw shot 176 on that day for nine holes, while the Pilgrims checked in at 195 and Wawasee at 198.
The prize on Sectional Saturday will be a spot in the East Noble Regional set for Sept. 22 at Cobblestone. The top three teams advance, as well as the top three individuals not on a qualifying team. The East Noble Regional will include the top three finishers from sectionals at Warsaw, Angola, East Noble, Huntington North, Norwell and Penn.
The State Finals are scheduled for Sept. 28-29 at The Legends Golf Course in Franklin.