By Adam Yoder
LAPORTE – Last week, the NorthWood girls golf team showed a lot of inexperience and inconsistency in its early season invitationals. While they still are a work in progress, they found themselves back in familiar territory on Tuesday after a first-place finish at the New Prairie Invitational and a post-match jump with Oreo the Panther.
The No. 17-ranked Panther squad fired a 337 to knock off No. 13 Penn by 10 shots on the par-72 Legacy Hills golf course in LaPorte.
Wood last won this event in 2013.
Junior Cybil Stillson pushed her season eagle total to three by rolling in a three on the par-five third hole. She added two more birdies on the back nine, and that put her well on her way to medalist honors with an even par 72. When asked about leaving a few shots out there on the water-logged course, Stillson agreed, “I didn’t have my best today, but I did a good job of managing my misses.”
Making the switch from playing elite state-wide and national events where yardages are usually 5,800-6,200 yards to playing from 600-800 yards shorter courses in most high school events has been an adjustment early in the season for the lefty. “It’s almost a different game from the shorter yardages. I have to play smarter and not go for everything with driver. Its about fairways and greens and setting up my short irons.”
The Panthers also placed three other girls under 90 and in the top 15 in the event. Richner totaled an 87 and Bre Goss fired an 89. Richner birdied the par-five third and Goss got into the birdie action as well with a four on the par-five fifth. Perhaps the most encouraging performance for the team’s prospects down the road in the NLC season and state tourneys was sophomore Riley Kitson shooting in the 80’s for the first time in a tournament with an 89.
“It feels really good, and I feel like I’ve learned a lot over these past ten days,” said Kitson of her first five tournaments as a full-time varsity player. “I have to continue to improve my consistency and give total focus to each shot.”
Kitson proved her growth in consistency on Tuesday with no scores higher than a six on the scorecard, and she also missed a hole in one on the par three fifteenth hole by less than a foot, leading to a birdie.
Junior Bella Sechrist posted a 112 from the fifth spot and sophomore Kira Schrock totaled a 116 playing as an individual.
Mishawaka Marian finished third in the twelve-team event with a 354. Penn freshman Delaney Wade was the runner-up, individually, with a 78.
NorthWood makes another road trip to the Indianapolis area on Saturday for the Lapel Invitational. The Panthers are the defending champions in the event that features the host Bulldogs and their sophomore sensation Macy Beeson (last year’s medalist with a 70) and top-ten, state-ranked Westfield, Hamilton Southeastern and Noblesville.