By Adam Yoder
NAPPANEE – The end of season girls golf match with Penn, NorthWood, and Laporte started with a hiccup on a beautiful night on Wednesday. The Slicers arrived at the wrong course (Knollwood CC in Granger) and were unable to make it in time to complete the match before sunset.
So, the No. 16-ranked Panthers would take on the No. 19-ranked Kingsmen head-to-head in twosomes over McCormick Creek’s front nine in a matchup of squads that will likely be battling it out with a handful of teams at Noble Hawk in the IHSAA East Noble regional in two weeks for a spot in the state finals.
In the end, the Panthers would survive the Kingsmen by three shots, 171-174.
The grouping to see was NorthWood junior ace Cybil Stillson and Penn freshmen sensation Delaney Wade. The duo had won the Northern Lakes Conference and Northern Indiana Conference tournaments, respectively, last Saturday and started their match on the par-four second hole.
Stillson was even par through four holes, and Wade sat at two over. As both players played the back to back par-three sixth and seventh holes, Wade would gain a stroke on Stillson with a par on six and a double bogey on seven. Stillson could only manage bogey, double bogey through the short holes.
Wade continued to challenge Stillson by making a ten-foot putt for eagle on the par-five eighth. Stillson settled for par.
All of a sudden, the freshman had visions of slaying the Panther number one. Both players had reasonable birdie attempts on the difficult par-four ninth, but this time it was Stillson rolling in the putt to even the match with both players two over.
Wade would ultimately find trouble at the par-four first and end her round with a double bogey to settle for a 40.
Stillson, as per usual, kept herself steady and carded a par to finish to shoot 38 and claim co-medalist honors with who else, teammate Bre Goss.
Goss’ matching 38 included two bogeys and seven pars. She has been quietly putting together an impressive season herself by earning her second nine-hole medalist honor of the season to go with seven top ten finishes, including a third-place finish (a single stroke out of the playoff for medalist) at last Saturday’s NLC Championship and an even more impressive 11th-place finish a few weeks back at the Hall of Fame Invitational.
NorthWood head coach Adam Yoder, whose team defeated Penn for the seventh straight season in a nine-hole match, was less than thrilled with his team’s performance on Wednesday.
“It is certainly nice to beat Penn because well, Penn is Penn,” stated Yoder. “However, our body language overall was poor tonight in a lot of instances, and there’s really no excuse for it. I certainly appreciate that our girls have high expectations, but we seem to be getting in our own way in that regard.”
Senior Abbie Richner, fresh off her top-ten finish and All-NLC honors at the NLC tourney, shot a solid 43 in her last match at McCormick Creek.
Riley Kitson and Kira Schrock struggled to scores of 52 and 58 to round out the varsity scores.
NorthWood finishes its season at 9-1 overall in nine-hole matches to finish with either one or zero losses every year since 2011.
Oreo the Panther will be riding high on Saturday as NorthWood enters the IHSAA Warsaw Sectional at Stonehenge in Winona Lake on Saturday as the favorites in the nine-team field. Tee times start at 9 a.m. with the Panthers paired with Warsaw and Plymouth.