By Mike Deak
CARMEL – Not a bad time to have a participation ban be lifted.
Just hours after NorthWood was granted to regain active status in the fall sports season, the girls golf team jumped on a bus and took on the state’s best competition at the State Preview.
The elite showcase, played at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel, home of the IHSAA State Finals, saw NorthWood compete with 11 other teams that played in the 2019 IHSAA championships. The Panthers, which finished sixth last fall, didn’t have a comparable team finish – landing 14th out of 18 overall – but saw its No. 1 land in elite company.
NorthWood, playing with only two of the five that swung at Prairie View last October, scored like a team lacking the spotlight experience with a 393. The score was nearly 60 shots lower than it shot Thursday on its home course, and just Cybil Stillson was under 100 – where three of its scores were 86 or better at home.
Stillson shot a 75 to land in a logjam tie for third, sitting with four others. Everyone was looking up at Evansville North’s Chloe Johnson, who tallied a 71 to earn tournament medalist.
“What a great day for Cybil today,” said NorthWood head coach Adam Yoder. “She had quite a week of golf and to go down there and play even better than she scored, really, was a testament to her improvement over the past few months and her growing mental toughness.”
Carmel, which had three players shoot 75 or better, scored a 306 to best Evansville North by five strokes. Westfield finished third at 315 and defending state champion Homestead was five shots back of the Shamrocks in fourth.
Penn, which finished third at the NorthWood Invite Thursday, took 11th Saturday with a 373.
For the Panthers, Breanna Goss had a tough day, shooting 34 shots higher than her Thursday output to score a 108. Goss and Stillson are the two holdovers from the state team from last fall. Abbie Richner had a 103, Riley Kitson had a 107 and Bella Sechrist had a 134 in their maiden voyages on the state course.
“Bre Goss had a little swing issue crop on Friday and it ultimately continued to fester all day on Saturday,” Yoder said. “She handled her day a lot better than I would’ve though. I’m not worried about it in the least and very excited for her progress as well. Three top fives in our other three events this week shows she has a lot of great golf in her.
“Abbie, Riley, and Bella were all playing Prairie View for the first time today, and that’s a tough spot to be thrown into. I was very impressed with all three of them in how they handled the big stage for the first time. I know they learned a lot.”