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WARSAW – It was a fitting response from NorthWood girls golf head coach Adam Yoder long after his team won the Warsaw Girls Golf Sectional, the first sectional title in school history.
“The girls are going to see a play at Amish Acres tonight,” Yoder said of his team. As cool as the girls were on one of the toughest golf courses in northern Indiana, might as well kick back and watch someone else perform.
NorthWood was masterful on the Stonehenge Country Club course, staying out of trouble and staying on course with a more-than-economical 348, 12 strokes better than nearest competitor Wawasee’s 360. Columbia City, which employed the same methods NorthWood used, kept the ball in play and kept calm, shooting a 378 to escape as the third team qualifying for the East Noble Regional next Saturday.
Linnzie Richner again led NorthWood with a 79, the second-best score of the day only to Rochester’s Karsten Lingenfelter’s 76. Summer Stillson added an 82, third-best score of the day tied with Plymouth’s Randi Dunn. Rachel Beebe added a 91 and Baillie Richner a 96 for NorthWood’s final total.
Rochester’s Kinley Lingenfelter shot an 88, winding up as the third individual to advance to the regional with her sister and Dunn. The cruel game of golf would then settle in, as Warsaw’s hope not only vanished in the team scoring, but in the individual advancement as well.
Warsaw and Rochester were left with eyes red and jaws agape as their team tournament dreams were dashed with matching 383s, ironically playing in the same group as Columbia City and the last rotation off the humbling course. The Lingenfelter sisters at least move on, but the same couldn’t be said of Warsaw’s Alexis Manwaring, who fell one shot short of Kinley at 89. Manwaring, a senior and the 2014 Northern Lakes Conference tournament champion, would see her career end on her home course.
“I told our girls to keep their heads up,” Warsaw head coach Ray Davis said. “From where we were last year with these girls that are here to what we shot today, we took 24 strokes off our average.
“I knew we had to be close to 180 to be sure to get the third spot out, and we shot a 195. We battled on the back, but so did everyone else. I just feel for Alexis, a lot, with this being her senior year. Not only with the team, but finding out she was one stroke from advancing as an individual.”
Wawasee exorcised some demons on a course that has given the program fits at tournament time. An 83 from Elizabeth Jackson led the team, with an 87 from Mikala Mawhorter and two 95s from Kylee Rostochak and Aubrey Schmeltz comprising the total. Lady Warrior head coach Steve Coverstone, between frantic laps around the course looking for scoring updates and needing closure on the official scoreboard, offered a couple comments on his team returning to the regional for the first time since 2011.
“Obviously we wanted to come here and win after winning the (NLC) tournament last week, but our secondary goal was to get out of the sectional,” stated Coverstone. “We did that, and we shot a good score. We didn’t play that bad. It was a tough day to play with the wind.”
Columbia City were led by Macenzie Lane’s 90, then a consistent stream of a 94 by Cheyenne Johnson, 96 from Taylor Daniel and 98 from Sidney Vanmeter.
There wasn’t much ripple from the other local teams, as Triton (461), Whitko (461) and Tippecanoe Valley (512) were at the back end of the team standings. Hannah Jennings of Triton ended her decorated career with a 91 and just off the mark for the individual tallies. April Bishop paced Whitko with a 100 and Victoria Biddle led Valley with a 112.
For the teams and players still alive, all focus now shifts to Cobblestone Golf Club in Kendallville for the East Noble Girls Golf Regional, which will be played next Saturday. Teams and individuals from Angola, East Noble, Huntington North, Norwell, Penn and Warsaw sectionals will compete. The top three teams and five individuals will move to the IHSAA Girls Golf State Finals Oct. 3-4 at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel.
“Cobblestone is a similar style to Stonehenge in that you have a links style on one nine, trees and stuff on the other nine,” Coverstone said. “I don’t think it’s quite as difficult as Stonehenge, but weather conditions will dictate that. We’re ready to go play and see what we can do.”
Added Yoder, whose team reached the state finals for the first time after placing second at the regional, “You have to put the ball in the fairway and stay out of the hazards, that’s the bottom line. Last year, everyone was playing for two spots because Penn was so good. This year, it’s a crap shoot. Leo is probably a favorite, but there are three spots up for grabs. Cobblestone is a tough course, but it’s fair and doable. We just need to go play.”