SYRACUSE — Headed into the homestretch of their three-way Northern Lakes Conference meet with visiting Plymouth and NorthWood, Wawasee’s Warriors looked primed to move to a 4-0 conference start.
But things unraveled somewhat for the home team over the last few holes at South Shore Golf Club, and instead it was the Pilgrims who topped the pile with a 161 to Wawasee’s 170, while the Warriors split with a win over NorthWood and its 172.
“The good news is the guys played hard, and they kept a good attitude. Just had a bad finish,” said Wawasee coach Steve Coverstone.
“I’m proud of the kids. They competed hard. We just didn’t quite have enough today.”
Warriors top flighter Zach Leedy tripled the par 4 ninth but carded a pair of pars to finish his round of 43. Evan Dippon shot 40, and Dillon Drake turned in a 41 in a pair of solid finishes in the second and third groupings, but Victor Tayagua quadrupled his last hole to finish with a 46, one stroke ahead of freshman Caden Welty in the fifth spot in the lineup.
“We actually were in really good shape to win both of them, and we just played the last few holes bad,” explained Coverstone. Victor got in trouble on number two, a par 4, where the ball went into the bush and we couldn’t find it, so we had to re-tee and made an 8. Zach had a bad finish, and we just gave away shots the last few holes. Can’t do that.”
Plymouth got a trio of 38s from Chapman Yoder, Bryce Carmichael and Owen Yoder, and Bennett Christy’s 47 completed the team score. Matthew Gerard’s 51 was the toss-out for the Pilgrims, who stayed unbeaten in NLC play at 4-0.
Sean Hogan went low at the three-way with a 36 despite a rocky start on No. 3. After doubling that long par 5, Hogan made birdy on Nos. 4 and 7 on his way to the even-par finish.
“Very good play for Sean tonight. It was good to see,” said NorthWood coach Phil Ummel. “He’s been up and down here a little bit lately. He actually hit a ball out of bounds on his third hole tonight, which I worried was going to get him down a bit. But he bounced back with a couple birdies to get it to even par. I’m very proud of the way he played.”
The rest of the Panthers’ scores were consistent, but they were a bit too high to break into the NLC win column. Jon Cripe and Cooper Wiens both shot 45, and Kyle Cripe turned in a 46. Liam Hammond’s 50 was Wood’s throwaway. The team slips to an 0-3 NLC start, but Ummel isn’t too frustrated with it, given the fact that those three losses have likely come to the conference’s top three teams this year.
“We didn’t play bad tonight; we didn’t play great tonight. We matched up against two pretty good schools, and we’ve got to play a little better to be able to beat them, but we’re not terribly disappointed with the way we played,” said Ummel.
“Very possibly we might’ve played the three best teams in conference to start the year. Certainly Warsaw and Plymouth are probably the top two at this point, and Wawasee is kind of sitting in there kind of fighting for that third spot, which we hope to be kind of in that ballpark as well. Hopefully next week we can improve a little bit and get a good result and go into the conference tournament playing our best.”
NorthWood and Wawasee both play in the Culver Military Academy Invitational Saturday at 9 a.m. Wood will host Concord and Goshen Thursday evening. Wawasee travels to Maplecrest in Goshen Tuesday night with a meet against the host RedHawks and Warsaw.
“We’re not off to a bad start. If we can finish. It depends how we play next week,” Coverstone said.
“We’ve historically had a little trouble playing at Goshen so we’ll see how we do up there.”