By Mike Deak
NAPPANEE – It’s been a minute since something like what transpired Thursday at McCormick Creek. In fact, several minutes.
For the first time since 2015, NorthWood girls golf landed lower on the board than a Northern Lakes Conference opponent in match play as Concord not only shot a better score, but also took the title at the NorthWood Girls Golf Invite.
“It doesn’t really register with me, honestly, because as I sit and talk to my team, you can see how calm they are,” stated Concord head coach Tara Boessler. “They are all just talking about their own game and where shots could have come off. I mean, they are excited with the win, but they are excited they broke the school record by 13 strokes.”
Boessler’s starting five would post a 332 – a school record by a whopping 13 strokes – and see a 40-plus stroke difference from where it was at the beginning of the week, with a much different lineup, however.
Concord added Belle Brunner, a transfer from Wawasee, and Brooke Watson, coming over from Elkhart, to the top of its lineup for an already steady group from a year ago. Watson led the Minutemen with a career-best 76 and Brunner hung an 81 while Gracie Tucker added an 80. In where Boessler said her team’s success could teeter was in her four and five, and Thursday she got the numbers in a 95 from Evelyn Theinert and 96 from Rayna Boessler.
“They are learning that golf is a game of managing your mistakes, and they are just keeping really calm and their wits about themselves to work their way around the course,” added Boessler.
NorthWood also saw an upgrade to its lineup from the start of its season. Junior Cybil Stillson showed zero effects of any jet lag after getting home very late Wednesday night from a three-day golf showcase in Pinehurst, NC. Getting back to playing in her backyard, Stillson tied a women’s course-record with a sparkling 70, eagling the par-five third and eighth to mitigate some struggles elsewhere.
“She shot 35 on both sides, on the front (nine), she had two eagles and a birdie and still shot 35 — she had some bogeys mixed in there, too,” said NorthWood head coach Adam Yoder. “I thought she played really well. She’s got a few more days of golf in her; we’re at Lake Central (Friday) and the State Preview Saturday. She’s going to be getting a lot of miles in this week.”
The No. 9 NorthWood also saw Breanna Goss elevate her status with a 74 and Abbie Richner turn in an 86 as its top three scores. Riley Kitson at 104 and Bella Sechrist at 110 were the four and five scores, to which Yoder optioned were not the reason ‘for the loss’, but gave his team some speaking points on staying consistent.
“This is a different journey than the last couple years,” said Yoder, whose team still holds its undefeated NLC dual streak at 57 dating back to 2011. “This is back to six to eight years ago how we were with one or two really good players at the top and trying to hang onto dear life with everybody else. And that’s kind of what we have to figure out.”
No. 12 Penn was consistent in its scoring to post a 339, led by Gillian Lippert at 79 and all following between there and 90.
Lakeland’s Madison Keil, paired with Stillson, was the tournament runner-up with a round of 72, and Mishawaka Marian’s Selah Unwin rounded out the top five with a 78.
Warsaw scored a 379 to place seventh in the team standings. The Tigers saw Marie Frazzetta post a personal best 83 to pace the club. Delaney Byron shot a 95 and Sydney Lancaster hit 98 as the team’s top three, and a 103 from Olivia Robinson-Gay comprised the final keep score. Brooklyn Fitzgerald added a 108.
“I think overall we did really well today,” said Warsaw head coach David James, whose team was paired with Concord and Wawasee. “I think the event went over really well. I’m excited to see how well we stack up with the likes of Wawasee and Concord, two teams we know we will see later in the season. The girls did very well with just a match under their belts before today, so this bodes well for us going forward.”
Wawasee came in right behind Warsaw with a 386, getting an 83 from Taylor Cripe to lead the bunch. Tate Cowan came in at 91 followed by Rylee Firestone at 102 and Izzy Losee at 110. Ayla Torres had the fifth score at 136.
“We need to see what each of the girls needs to work on,” said Wawasee head coach Steve Coverstone. “We had a lot of trouble with the greens today. The greens were fast and we were knocking a lot of putts by. Instead of playing maximum break and letting them die in the hole, we were trying to make it in the front door. You do that and miss, you are eight feet by.”