WARSAW – The 2014 fall sports season officially kicked off on Monday night. Ushering in the new prep sports season was a golf match between three area schools all with hopes of making this season a special one.
The Warsaw girls golf team welcomed in Triton and No. 13 Rochester to Stonehenge Golf and Country Club in a the first meeting between these three sectional foes.
Triton unfortunately could not field a full roster, leaving just the Lady Tigers and visiting Zebras to fight for early bragging rights. The ranked Zebras struggled with the daunting layout of Stonehenge but still managed to pull out a 195-198 season-opening victory over Warsaw.
Rochester was of course led by its three sibling stars Kovenant, Karsten and Kinley Lingenfelter. Kinley, the youngest of the three, golfed in the third spot for Rochester and managed to have the evening’s lowest score with a 40. Kovenant and Karsten were not as effective as usual on Monday night, but still managed to shoot in the 40s with a 47 and 43, respectively.
The Lingenfelters were the strength of the Zebras sectional championship run last season and will once again be a force to be reckoned with, but the success of Rochester will be based on what its four and five golfers can do. On Monday night the Zebras did not receive much help, getting and 65 and 75 from their bottom two spots.
The difference in the final outcome, however, was not about Rochester’s bottom two players as much as it was about Warsaw’s middle three players.
Kristen Watson(59), Maddie Graham (53) and Page Desenberg (55) all finished with scores north of 50, which handcuffed the bookend sub-50 scores from Alexis Manwaring (41) and Ash Jain (49).
The biggest issue the Tigers had did not rest with any singular player, it rested with nine individual greens where every Warsaw player struggled.
“We left a lot of putts out there today,” said first-year Warsaw head coach Ray Davis. “That’s one thing we’ve been working on, trying to have no more than two putts per hole. Unfortunately we had some three-putts, a few fours and even one five-putt out there today.
“But, hey, it’s our first time out and a few of these girls are playing varsity for the first time so, there were some nerves to overcome. We just have to come back tomorrow and get back to work.”
Davis specifically mentioned the performances of Manwaring and Jain as being positive signs from Monday’s close defeat. Manwaring’s 41 was highlighted by a birdie on number two while Jain recovered from a rough first three holes to finish with her 49.
Triton only had three players to bring to Monday’s meet, which meant the Trojans would not be able to have an official score. Hannah Jennings, a 2013 regional qualifier, led the Trojans with a 51. Lilly Berger shot a 62 while Kayla Kraft came in with a 74.
Head coach Jack Carpenter is still hoping to find at least one more player so Triton can field an official team, and the coach also made it sound like he is hoping for a few changes in the summer prep for high school golf.
“It’s tough. I don’t know what other sport there is where you only get two practices and then, boom, you have a match or game,” said Carpenter, referring to the state’s first official practice day being last Friday, August 1.
“It’s frustrating,” Carpenter continued. “We had seven girls sign up for the team at the end of the school year and then we only had three come out. We are working on a few still and hopefully we get at least one more.
“Hannah (Jennings) is the only girl that plays consistently over the summer, so she has the most invested in this and her score was frustrating for her tonight. She had a couple of nines out there, both on par fives. If she cuts those back to bogies then she shoots a 45 which would be very good for this course.”
One thing that was evident from all the coaches and players on Monday night was that improvements are definitely on the horizon for all teams and players. Now that the rust has been shaken off, expect to see much better performances from all these teams before they meet again in the sectional.
Warsaw travels to Plymouth for an invite at Plymouth Country Club this Wednesday while Triton plays that same day in the Caston Invitational.