By Mike Deak
NAPPANEE – Cybil Stillson is making it hard to top herself. The NorthWood sophomore was virtually dominant night in, night out in carving up the competition for the Panthers’ girls golf program.
The clearcut No. 1 golfer for one of the top ten teams in the state, Stillson didn’t flinch in any of the 11 duals NorthWood had in 2019. In achieving medalist status in each of the 11 matchups, Stillson was at 39 or better in all but one, where she shot a paltry 40 against Mishawaka in what was her ‘worst’ nine-hole round of the season.
If not more impressive, Stillson was a tournament medalist five times, shooting 72 to win the Lafayette Harrison Invite then 74 to capture the Warsaw Invite in a precursor for things to come. Stillson also was second at both the NorthWood and Lapel tournaments.
“The best way for me to stay consistent is by maintaining focus on my goals and aspirations as a golfer while having fun and enjoying playing the game,” Stillson said. “One of the most fun aspects of golf is playing so many different courses around the state of Indiana, as well as out of state. The challenge of learning the course while playing in a competition is a large part of why I love golf.”
Moving to the tournament season, Stillson just got better. Her 75 at the Northern Lakes Conference Championships at Stonehenge topped the field and was the cherry on top of NorthWood’s 317 team score, which set tournament and program records. NorthWood is in the midst of a 57-match win streak in the NLC.
A week later, Stillson’s 77 back at Stonehenge led the way as NorthWood posted a Warsaw Sectional record of 316, lowering the program record by a stroke.
While NorthWood couldn’t catch Homestead in the regional, the Panthers were second and Stillson fired a school-record 67 that topped all of the aces the Spartans threw out.
“Cybil has had very lofty goals from long before she became a member of our program two years ago,” began NorthWood girls golf head coach Adam Yoder. “I’ve always felt like she would end up being the most talented player we have ever had. She improved so much between her freshman and sophomore years. I had seen/played/caddied enough with her in the summer before 2019 that I’d seen it up close.”
Stillson’s 67 at Noble Hawk wasn’t a fluke, as her two-day score of 149 landed the super sophomore as sixth-best in the state. As with the trend throughout the season, that set a program record for best finish at the state finals. NorthWood also placed sixth as a team, yes, a program best.
Over the course of the season, Stillson set 18 personal bests over nine and 18-hole competition.
“After the state tournament this past fall, I got home, had a good night sleep, and then went right back out onto our home course the next morning to play again,” Stillson said, whose family lives on McCormick Creek’s course, NorthWood’s home course. “For some reason I just can’t stay away from the golf course. It’s really neat to think about what all I have done and what the team has accomplished, but it’s even more fun to think about what all we can still achieve.”
Stillson’s raw numbers are astonishing. In 18-hole play against some of the top teams in the state, Stillson hit 54 percent of her shots to the fairway. She had two eagles and 37 birdies compared to 58 bogeys. She only had nine holes the entire season of double bogey or worse. In nine-hole competition, she went below par on 18 holes compared to just 30 bogeys.
Stated Yoder, “Once you’re a really skilled player in golf, the scoring improvements come in very small steps, but Cybil certainly demonstrated she’d made those steps in 2019, as was evident in her plus-two performance over her last 54 holes of her season (Regional, State Day 1, and State Day 2).”