SYRACUSE – The Northern Lakes Conference always seems to have several tough teams in any given sport, girls golf in no exception to that. This year there are a handful of teams that could make a run for the top spot in the conference.
While anything could happen between now and the end of the regular season, the two teams that are looked at as being favorites for the conference crown are NorthWood and Wawasee. The two teams met for the first time this season on Saturday in the Wawasee Invitational and it was NorthWood that took round one.
The Panthers wont the invite with a score of 353, comfortably getting by second place Wawasee (370) at South Shore Golf Club. As was expected, the two NLC foes were miles ahead of the rest of the field with Mishawaka being the third place team with a score of 411.
“The position that we’re in, I think, is that we’ve kind of got a target on our back,” NorthWood head coach Adam Yoder stated. “We’re still trying to find our identity, we’re not sure yet about who we want to be.
“We’re not used to having that target on our back and so I’ve been trying to coach better through it and the kids have been trying to play better through it. So, today was a big first step for us.”
Yoder’s girls certainly did play better than the majority of the field on Saturday. The Panthers were led on the course by Linnzie Richner, their number one golfer. Richner backed up her spot in the lineup by shooting a very impressive 76, earning her medalist honors.
Summer Stillson (85) and Rachel Beebe (92) also placed in the top ten with their scores to help put NorthWood on top. Baillie and Madison Richner both shot 100s to round out the scores for NorthWood.
While no conference standings were effected with Saturday’s results, Wawasee was put on notice that the battle for NLC immortality is going to be more of a war.
The Lady Warriors played well, but NorthWood was just on its game more so than Wawasee.
Mikala Mawhorter had a 44 on the front and a 41 on the back to give herself a top 10 finish with an 85. Mawhorter’s round was highlighted by a birdie on 15. While the junior was the only Wawasee played to shoot south of 90, Elizabeth Jackson used five pars and a birdie to shoot a 92.
Kylee Rostochak used a solid front nine performance to also finish with a 92. Aubrey Schmeltz continues to adjust to playing with a walking boot on her right leg and would sign for a 101. Kamryn Foy had her first off day in over a week and would come in with a 105.
Wawasee head coach Steve Coverstone said what most Wawasee faithful were thinking after the match, “It’s never a good thing when a conference team beats you on a course that you should know better.”
“We really didn’t play that bad today,” Coverstone added. “NorthWood’s top two played really well today. A 76 by Linnzie (Richner) is a great score and that is just hard to compete with. Both teams really played well and we fought hard. We’ll see if we can do better the next time.”
Wawasee and NorthWood will meet again on August 26 in a triangular against Northridge and will square off once more at South Shore for the NLC Championship in September.
Wawasee fielded another team, but did record an official score as the team only had three players. The Wawasee Green team was led by Madison Beaman’s 99. Courtney McDaniel (105) and Rebecca Bender (111) rounded out the scores for the Green.