ELKHART – The Northridge golf team had a reputation to protect heading into the Northern Lakes Conference Golf Championships on Saturday afternoon. After finishing the regular season 7-0 in NLC play, the Raiders lived up to the hype by dominating the greens and fairways at Christiana Creek Country Club.
Northridge shot a 305 as a team, beating out second place Warsaw (327) by 22 strokes. NorthWood came in third, also with a 327. Wawasee finished eighth with its score of 347.
The Raiders were the favorites coming into Saturday and senior leader Will Erekson made sure that they were not going to be upset by anyone. Erekson was excellent, shooting a 66. Of the 40 golfers to play in Saturday’s championship, only six shot sub-80. Erekson’s dominant performance put him on a completely different level, it was as if he was playing on a different course than the rest of the field.
Erekson hit 13 greens, 10 fairways and had 24 putts. The senior also sank seven birdies and had a bogey on just one hole. The score was by far the low of the day, giving Erekson his second consecutive medalist performance at the NLC Championship. Erekson shot a 71 and claimed the medalist title after winning a playoff in last year’s tourney at Maplecrest Country Club in Goshen.
“I don’t really think I found anything too challenging out there today,” said Erekson. “We played a match here on Thursday and shot a practice round on Friday so I was pretty familiar with the course. The thing is, I hit my drives very well today. That set me up to use my pitching wedge more and when I use that I usually end up with a lot of birdies.
“I try to use the ‘one shot at a time’ mentality. It’s cliche but it works and that’s the focus that the team and I will need going into sectional.”
Tom Morrison (80), Luke Morrison (81), Austin Schmidt (78) and Corbin Bullock (82) made up the rest of the Raiders scores.
Warsaw, along with the rest of the field, did not have the gusto to hang with Erekson and the Raiders. The Tigers did get the benefit of a tiebreaker over NorthWood to finish in second, but there was just not much to brag about for Warsaw on Saturday.
Jonny Hollar had a fine day on the course, shooting a 77, to lead the Tigers. Unfortunately, Hollar was the only Tiger to shoot anything under an 80, preventing Warsaw from closing the gap on Northridge.
Will Petro had some moments, but ultimately struggled to get anything going and would finish with an 81. Michael Jensen (82), Brandon Eckert (87) and Ryan Cultice (88) rounded out the scores for Warsaw.
“We’re still struggling,” said Warsaw head coach Ben Barkey. “We’ve all kind of agreed not to lower our expectations because we’ve struggled, so we just have to keep working hard.”
Wawasee was seemingly doomed before the team even boarded the bus on Saturday morning.
The Warriors No. 3 man Cal Heinisch and No. 5 Rasmus Rich both showed up running fevers north of 100 and the health struggles that the boys had going into the match ended up being an obstacle that neither could overcome.
Heinisch did have a birdie on 10 after missing a putt for eagle, but still came in with a 92. Rich was struggling from first tee and would finish with a 96. Mason Germonprez had trouble getting any momentum in the No. 4 spot and would shoot a 94.
At the top of the lineup, the Warriors found a little more success with Tristen Atwood and Jeffrey Moore.
Moore led the team with a 79. The sophomore shot a 43 on the front but finished even par on the back with a 36. Atwood had one bad stretch that prevented him breaking 80 and would sign for an 82.
“It just wasn’t out day,” said Steve Coverstone, head coach for Wawasee. “I can’t be too critical of two of our guys, they were out there playing pretty sick, so there is nothing much to say about those scores.
“Mason (Germonprez) did not have a good day, but we did manage to get two decent days out of Tristen (Atwood) and Jeffrey (Moore). I really just don’t know what to say about today, we just didn’t play well. We have to forget about it and get better for our tournament on Tuesday night.”
Both Wawasee and Warsaw will head to Tippecanoe Lake Country Club on Tuesday night for the annual Bob Turner Classic.