GOSHEN – “That’s what this is all about for me, doing as well as I can for the team so we can get to state this year.”
Warsaw’s Will Petro was excited, to say the least, about his round at Maplecrest Country Club Saturday afternoon. The Warsaw junior stunned the field by shooting a 73 to help lead the No. 12 Tigers to the Northern Lakes Conference tournament title with a team score of 308, edging out No. 8 NorthWood’s 310. Wawasee, on the other hand, did not perform with the leaders as it hoped with a 331, landing in sixth place.
“Everything was just working for me today. The course was nice and it was playing to my ability. We came up and practiced here Friday and I was able to get a feel for the greens and figure out the speed and it really helped me out for today,” Petro later added.
Petro’s 73 tied for the lowest score on the day with Northridge’s Will Erekson and NorthWood’s Dylan Gessinger, both of which are their respective team’s number one golfers. Petro, on the other hand, is typically slotted in the five spot for the Tigers and played as the number four on Saturday.
Erekson claimed medalist honors on the day after winning a one-hole playoff with Petro and Gessinger.
The outstanding round by Petro even came as a surprise to Tiger head coach Ben Barkey.
“Will Petro’s 73 is magical, for lack of a better term,” Barkey said. “Obviously with him being our four guy, that’s seven shots better than his average. You have to have standout performances in championship matches and obviously a 73 is a great round for any of our guys but especially for Will.”
Barkey would continue, “Will has been on the edge of doing this all season but he has usually had one really bad hole that will get him in a little funk. Today, we worked on a little bit different of a routine to get him prepared and it worked. This score is attributed to his hard work throughout the year and in practice. Honestly, last year Will was our nine or ten guy and now he is a conference champion.”
While Petro’s 73 was the headliner from Saturday’s tournament, Warsaw need a team effort in order to beat a NorthWood squad that had already bested the Tigers three times this season. The Panthers prevailed twice in invitational play and then head-to-head, 151-161, versus the Tigers in a nine-hole match last week on their home course.
Shooting the second lowest score for Warsaw was Jon Schram’s 75. The senior finished his day strong posting six pars and a birdie on the back nine to close the back with an even 36 after finishing with just a 39 on the front.
Even Cultice and Tim Ahlersmeyer both posted an 80 for the Tigers. Ahlersmeyer had three birdies on the day to help boost his score. Jonny Hollar surprisingly finished with the highest score on the day for the Tigers with an 85. Barkey thought the beauty of Hollar’s round was the team effort it took to rise above it.
“This was a traditional golf team effort. Jonny Hollar who has carried us for 36 holes of conference play only being three over. He had the best 36-hole, nine hole average and got picked up by four teammates today. That’s the cool part of this is to have that ability to pick someone up when they have an off night. This was just a good day all around,” Barkey stated.
With the win today, the Tigers picked up a share of the NLC regular season championship (tied with NorthWood) and were also able to clinch the NLC Boys All-Sport championship, edging out Northridge and Concord. The Tigers also went home with three players named to the All-NLC team. Will Petro played himself onto the first team while Jon Schram and Jonny Hollar were voted in by the coaches and Tim Ahlersmeyer was voted on as an honorable mention.
The NLC title for the Tigers makes it five straight years that the program has won outright or shared the league championship.
Kosciusko County’s other NLC representative was the Wawasee Warriors.
Wawasee posted a 331 to finish in the number six slot on Saturday, a disappointing result but not anything to hang heads about according to coach Steve Coverstone.
“I’m happy with this effort today. No, we did not have any stellar scores but we also did not have anyone golf horribly either. The only thing I was really looking at today was how we fared against the teams we will face in sectionals and outside of losing poorly to Northridge, I thought we did well even with not having great scores,” stated Coverstone.
The Warriors were led by Luke Jackson’s 80, highlighted on the back nine in a stretch where he posted consecutive birdies and then three pars in a row. Jackson’s efforts today and throughout the season were awarded by being voted in as an honorable mention to the All-NLC team, the only Warrior to receive an honor.
Fellow senior Dylan Cousins finished with an 83, tied for the Warriors second lowest score. Cousins inked a 40 on the back nine in which he closed his round parring four of his last six holes. Jeffrey Moore also had an 83 for the Warriors. Moore’s day was highlighted on number three where the freshman chipped in for birdie. Moore finished the front nine with an impressive 39.
Tristen Atwood posted an uncharacteristic 88 for the Warriors and Cal Heinisch finished with an 85 to round out the Warriors scores.
Coverstone added some more commentary on his team, “Right now we are satisfied with what we shot. It was not our best and we were still right around some of the teams we will see in our sectional. We just want to see the scores improve by next Saturday.”
When asked if he had a message for the team after the match, Coverstone laughed and said, “They’ve had enough golf talk for today. I just asked them where they wanted to eat.”
Before the Warriors and Tigers gear up for sectionals they will again meet up with NLC foe NorthWood and other area teams in Monday night’s Bob Turner Classic at Tippecanoe Country Club. Tee time is set for 4:15 p.m.
Final Team Scores
Elkhart Memorial 321
2013 NLC All-Conference First Team
Will Petro – Warsaw
Will Erekson – Northridge
Dylan Gessinger – NorthWood
Alex Hartsough – Goshen
Jon Schram – Warsaw
Payton Grubbs – NorthWood
Frank Iauagnilio – Elkhart Memorial
Jonny Hollar – Warsaw
2013 Honorable Mention All-NLC
Braden Sherwood – Elkhart Memorial
Luke Jackson – Wawasee
Tim Ahlersmeyer – Warsaw
Logan Kauffman – NorthWood