There’s no shortage of regional experience in the Warsaw girls golf lineup.
There will also be no shortage of strong teams in the Tigers’ way come Saturday.
Warsaw makes its’ bid for a State Finals berth this weekend in a challenging field at the East Noble Regional.
Play among the 18 teams and 18 individuals, including a pair of Wawasee golfers, commences at 8:30 a.m. at Noble Hawk Golf Links in Kendallville.
Warsaw is coming off a third place finish in its’ own sectional last Saturday. The Tigers shot 369 at Stonehenge to finish behind NorthWood (351) and champion Rochester (349).
Warsaw coach Chris LaLonde knows the challenge that awaits in a regional that includes No. 1 Penn and No. 12 Marion. Penn won the regional title last year at Cobblestone with a 323, while Rochester was second at 328 and Marion third at 339. The Tigers placed fifth with a 357.
“I think it’s going to take a score of 335 or lower Saturday to advance,” said LaLonde. It is a tough regional with good teams.”
The Warsaw lineup features veterans Nikki LaLonde and Alexis Manwaring. This will be the fourth regional for senior LaLonde and the third for junior Manwaring. Senior Elizabeth Meadows played in the regional a year ago.
“Experience should help,” said coach LaLonde. “They know to go play the course. I expect them to be leaders on the course. It is going to take four good scores to make it out. I would like to see the three have good, solid rounds. We tee off the backside in the first group so we can be the team who sets the score to beat.”
Nikki LaLonde led her team at the sectional with a round of 79, which earned her a third place finish among individuals. Manwaring and Meadows each shot an 89, while junior Kristen Watson shot 112 and freshman Madi Graham 118. Manwaring shot 83, LaLonde 87 and Meadows 90 at the regional a year ago.
Warsaw begins play Saturday on No. 10 with Graham teeing off at 8:54. Watson will go at 9:02, followed by Manwaring at 9:10, Meadows at 9:18 and LaLonde at 9:26.
The Tigers are paired with golfers from South Bend Adams and Bellmont.
Wawasee will be well represented by the duo of junior Elizabeth Jackson and sophomore Mikala Mawhorter. Jackson shot 87 and Mawhorter 90 in the Warsaw Sectional as the Warriors finished in fourth place in the final team standings. Mawhorter shot an 87 in the regional in 2012.
“We just want the girls to play their best Saturday,” said Wawasee coach Steve Coverstone. “Obviously, one goal is for each one to advance.”
Coverstone, whose sectional lineup was all underclassmen, said the focus will not change for his top two golfers.
“Stay away from big numbers and play smart golf,” Coverstone said. “The same as always. This experience for them is certainly valuable. We have a young team are are hopeful that our entire team can make it here next year.”
Mawhorter is scheduled to tee off from No. 10 at 8:30 Saturday with Jackson off the tenth at 8:46.
Triton will also be represented on Saturday by Hannah Jennings. The No. 1 for coach Jack Carpenter’s team shot 89 in the Warsaw Sectional. Jennings is slated to tee off on No. 10 at 8:38 Saturday.
NorthWood, which won the overall Northern Lakes Conference championship this fall, begins play Saturday on No. 10 at 9:34. Senior standout Heidi Morganthaler, who was the individual sectional champion after shooting 76 and winning a playoff, leads coach Adam Yoder’s team. The Panthers, who will be making their fifth regional appearance in the last six years, also feature Linnzie Richner, Summer Stillson, Rachel Beebe and Kayla Stankovich.
The regional field is led by sectional champions Penn, Rochester, Homestead, Marion, East Noble and Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger. Penn had the top sectional score with a 321 at Knollwood. Rochester was next with a 349, followed by Marion (351), Homestead (359), East Noble (364) and Dwenger (369).
Also in the regional mix are Leo, Angola, Fort Wayne Carroll, West Noble, Southwood, Huntington North, Fort Wayne Canterbury, Bellmont, Elkhart Central and South Bend Adams.
The top three teams and the top five individuals not on an advancing team at Saturday’s regional earn a spot in the State Finals. The season finale will be played Oct. 4-5 at The Legends Golf Club in Franklin.