GOSHEN – Sometimes it is just not meant to be.
That was the unfortunate case for the Wawasee boys golf team on Saturday.
Despite the overcast skies and a course condition that can best be described as squishy, the team played a decent round by posting a score of 330 in the Fairfield Sectional but missed the cut to advance to the regional tournament finishing in fifth place at the Black Squirrel Golf Club.
The day started out well but steadily went down hill after the front nine as head coach Steve Coverstone explained, “We were doing a good job, everyone was. At the turn we had four strokes on Fairfield, thing were looking good.” Fairfield ended up claiming the third and final team ticket to the Warsaw regional with a score of 323.
“We lost ground on the back. Only one of our guys shot below a 40 on the way in and that hurt us. But, we struggled on the back this week in practice, we were just hoping that there would be an improvement for today,” Coverstone continued.
The lone Warrior to shoot under 40 on the back nine was Jeffrey Moore. The freshman was the low score on the day for Wawasee as he finished with a 78, good enough to send him through to the regional. Moore birdied two on the front and one on the back to highlight his day. While ecstatic about advancing to the regional tournament, Moore made it clear that the moment had a bittersweet taste to it.
“We had practicing all year together getting ready for today. We play together as a team and coming here today the goal was to move on as a team but that didn’t happen. I’m really happy about advancing, it just would have made that much better to be moving on as a team,” Moore stated.
Coverstone said the key to Moore’s game is simply consistency, “Jeffrey has a lot of talent for a freshman. He is a dependable golfer because he is going to give you a birdie, par or bogey and that’s it. He very rarely has a big score on a hole and that is what makes him tough out there.”
According to Moore, it’s even simpler than that, “I just kept thinking ‘par golf’ today. If you hit the greens in regulation on this course than you should be fine. That and just hitting it straight.”
When asked what his strategy was for the regional Moore laughed and reiterated his earlier thoughts, “Same mentality, just hit it straight in the fairway and get up and down on the greens and you’ll be fine.”
The rest of the Warriors were all north of 80 for their final scores. Seniors Dylan Cousins and Luke Jackson finished their final match as Warriors by both posting an 83. Though the two seniors did not have the sectional send-off they certainly wanted, it is no secret that they both leave big shoes to fill.
“We have a lot of kids coming back next year but we are losing two big pieces to our team with Luke and Dylan,” stated Coverstone. “Those two guys have meant a lot to this team this year and they will be missed, there is no doubt that our underclassmen will have to step up in their place,” continued Coverstone.
Two of those underclassmen that will be called upon next year will be Cal Heinisch and Tristen Atwood. Both have played varsity for the majority of the season and will certainly keep the feeling of this year’s sectional defeat in the back of their minds as both finished with an 86.
Coverstone knows he has some valuable assets returning for next year’s team but there is still work to be done.
“The guys have to work this summer. They have to practice and improve. We have a lot of good golfers coming back for next year’s team, some that did not even golf today. We can be a good team again, we can improve but the guys have to put in the work to make it happen,” stated Coverstone.
Leading the pack of team’s Saturday with a score of 299 was NorthWood, which came as no surprise. The Panthers were Northern Lakes Conference co-champions and are currently ranked No.13 in the state. The Panthers had three of the top five individual scores, sectional medalist was Northridge’s Will Erekson with a score of 71.
NorthWood, Northridge, Fairfield and Wawasee’s Moore will next golf at the Warsaw regional held at Stonehenge Golf Club on Thursday.
1. NorthWood 299
2. Northridge 318
3. Fairfield 323
4. Goshen 326
5. WAWASEE 330
6. Concord 345
7. Lakeland 347* (Decided by fifth man score)
8. Bremen 347
9. Prairie Heights 351
10. Westview 388
11. Jimtown 399
12. Bethany Christian 459
Top Individual Scores (Top five all advanced with respective teams.)
1. Will Erekson – Northridge 71
2. Payton Grubbs – NorthWood 73
3. Dylan Gessinger – NorthWood 74
4. Loggan Kauffman – NorthWood 75
5. John Stack – Fairfield 76
6. Andrew Sandlin – Concord 78
7. Jeffrey Moore – Wawasee 78
8.Spencer Mortola – Lakeland 79* (Advanced over Hartsough by winning a one-hole playoff.)
9. Andrew Hartsough – Goshen 79