PLYMOUTH – Some children began school this week. Others began six weeks ago. Whatever the case, the phrase ‘time flies by’ applies. For those following the high school sports scene, many of the fields and courts are just getting a little wear on the grass and surfaces. For the girls golfers, they are already polishing up the clubs for the second season, with conference championships on the line this Saturday. Yes, we are already talking tournaments.
Northern Lakes Conference
It was a heavy dose of NorthWood once again in the NLC. The Panthers went 7-0 in the conference round robin for the sixth straight season and haven’t been beaten in 43 straight duals. While Mackenzie Weaver made a lot of the top-10 headlines on the invitational circuits, Madison Richner was the medalist in all four of NorthWood’s conference duals.
The one-two punch certainly puts NorthWood in the favorite role again at this Saturday’s championship at Pretty Lake in Plymouth. Weaver is coming off a school-record nine-hole round of 33 Wednesday afternoon and has played as the No. 1 against some of the top talent in the state throughout a rigorous regular season.
Panther head coach Adam Yoder sees his team peaking at the right time.
“We’re extremely excited to play Pretty Lake for the NLC title,” said Yoder, who has also seen tremendous growth from Hope Cripe, Abigail Richner and Makenna Gall. “The history on that course is amazing. Plymouth and the Pretty Lake staff will put on a great event. The keys for us will be the same as always, stay in the present and attack in a sensible way. We’re turning a corner a bit as a team right now, and we just have to keep making strides before the state tournament.”
There are plenty of teams in line to challenge NorthWood for the tourney title. Northridge and Concord have the frontline personnel to keep up with the Panthers, Ridge boasting of Braedon O’Dell and Concord with Elise Boessler. Both golfers have been tournament medalists this season and have the long and short games to contend. The Raiders are equipped to battle with NorthWood with its consistent starting five.
Warsaw is also built with a consistent top five, but doesn’t have a girl who can drop an 80. The Tigers have seen the Ray twins, Mady and Izzy, as well as Delaney Wihebrink, Miriam Hagg and Grayson Kilburn all improve in leaps and bounds. Wawasee could also be a sneaky team battling for second, with the combo of Belle Brunner and Zoe White at the top of its order.
Three Rivers Conference
The hill will be a mighty climb if either of Tippecanoe Valley or Whitko wants to stand with the TRC woodwork at Norwood Golf Club in Huntington.
Given the TRC doesn’t keep track of conference standings with members of the conference fielding less than full rosters, the tournament is the true championship.
Manchester could be the on-paper frontrunner, with Kelsey Eichenauer and Lydia Little leading the way through most of the season. With the additions of Sam Kissell and Madison Ulrey, the Squires are potent one through four in a conference that isn’t very deep. Maconaquah could step forward as the other team to contend with Manchester.
Valley has struggled to put together many consistent quality rounds, but will go at the pace of its No. 1 Makayla Sandbakken. Whitko had Makayla Compton shoot a career-best 51 just this past Tuesday.
Hoosier North Athletic Conference
The field is as wide open as it can be at the HNAC, and Triton certainly has a chance to grab the title. The tourney is being held at Chesapeake Run, and if Tuesday’s precursor was an indication, Triton might be in good shape.
The Trojans were 19 shots better or more than three HNAC foes at Chesapeake, and have not lost to a conference team all season with the exception of a standings battle with Winamac in the first tournament of the season where the Warriors were three strokes better. Triton and Winamac did not meet head-to-head this season.
Triton’s Delanie Groves has emerged as the team’s top option, with Megan McFarland right with Groves to give Triton a solid one-two. Whytnie Miller, Kate Gardner and Alysha May are all shooting near one-another and have had their moments this summer.
Expect Winamac to also contend and possibly North Judson sneak in there on its home course.