PANTHERS UP TO TASK, CLAIM LATEST TITLE
Ink Free News / Sports on Saturday, September 18, 2021
By Mike Deak
WARSAW – All that was left was to take care of business. After a strong regular season and an accompanying Northern Lakes Conference championship, NorthWood was interested in bolstering its collective résumé Saturday at the Warsaw Girls Golf Sectional.
In its second-best 18-hole score posted at Stonehenge, NorthWood added more history to its list of accomplishments with a 325 championship, the fourth straight sectional title for the Panthers.
“This score today, this is the best we’ve ever had here with the exception of the 2019 team,” said NorthWood head coach Adam Yoder. The 2019 title team posted a 316 in its championship march, its top four at 81 or better. “This is the best score we’ve had at Stonehenge outside of that team, that says a lot about these kids.”
And like the 2019 team that had its four sit one through four on the scoreboard, the 2021 version had three of its four align atop the leaderboard, two of those from that 2019 team.
Cybil Stillson finished off her third straight sectional medalist honor, putting for eagle on the 18th before settling for birdie and a one-over for the day at 72. After “struggling” to a two-over after three holes, Stillson played one under for the next eight holes. Her 35 on the back nine was one-under for the round, which was matched by teammate Bre Goss, who shot a 75 to finish second overall on the day. Goss left a couple strokes on the course on the front side in her 40, but birdied the par-three 13th to highlight the back nine.
Riley Kitson fired a 77, a career best, which had her post a 38 on the front side, only trailing Stillson for the best front nine at the turn. Kira Schrock had a 101 and Bella Sechrist a 102 to complete the Panther output, making the regional round for the 13th time in 14 years.
Joining NorthWood next Friday at the East Noble Regional at Noble Hawk Golf Links are Plymouth (354) and Warsaw (359), claiming the second and third places among the eight teams at the sectional.
Plymouth was led by Annastasia Hutchings’ 83, which had the No. 1 rally from a horrific 47 on the front to shoot even on the back to salvage her round.
Warsaw led Plymouth by four at the turn, 178-182, but some crooked numbers on the back held the Tigers back enough to lose ground to the Pilgrims. Returning to form for the hosts was Marie Frazzetta, who snapped out of a tough stretch of play of late to post an 80, fourth-best score of the tournament. Frazzetta was steady in shooting 40 on both sides. Olivia Robinson-Gay was next for Warsaw at 85 and the duo of Abigail Davis and Abbey Peterson came in at 97. Delaney Byron was the fifth score at 99.
“Really, all five girls came in under 100, and that was one of the goals we made in the preseason,” said Warsaw head coach David James. “We had to have that to start. Then we didn’t know how Tippy Valley was doing, and we were worried they might be lurking out there. But credit Marie, she had a fantastic round and we really needed that. She’s had a tough couple of weeks but really came out and played very well today.”
Also finding the Wonka tickets to next week’s regional were the trio of Madelyn Weaver of Tippecanoe Valley (87), Rylee Firestone of Wawasee (89) and Ava Thomas of Rochester (90).
Weaver made up for a hiccup at the Three Rivers Conference Championships last week with an 87 at Stonehenge, claiming the first spot on the individual list. Weaver had three double bogeys and a triple on the front, but was just two over on the five par-threes.
“I just practiced harder this week than I have in a while, just putted and chipped,” Weaver said about being motivated from the TRC. “I didn’t feel like I had a certain part of the course where I played better than somewhere else, I just felt pretty consistent.”
Firestone even surprised herself with her 89, easily her top performance of the year. After a 45 on the front side, Firestone improved to a 44 on the back, just three over her final four holes to punch her first-ever regional ticket.
“Honestly, I just came out today to have fun, I wasn’t expecting to make it to regionals,” Firestone said. “I just played for fun and it worked out for the best. I just felt my putting was great today, I was even surprised at some of them that I made.”
Weaver’s Vikings were on the outside looking in after making the regional as a team in 2020. Taking fourth with a 384, Molly Moriarty settled at 93 after a tough back nine, and it dipped to a 101 from Kaydence Mellott, 103 from Cheney Canada in her final match at Valley, and 106 by Lily Ault.
“I thought if we got into the 360s, that might be enough to get us out,” stated Tippecanoe Valley head coach Thadd Mellott. “Turns out 360 wouldn’t have made it out, we would have came up short. It’s been a good, yet disappointing season. We were 17-4 in the regular season match play, set school records for lowest nine and lowest 18, then were second in the conference and fourth in the sectional. Overall, the girls did their best. 384 isn’t a bad score and we have four of them returning.”
Wawasee finished its team season with a 412, also seeing the career of Taylor Cripe to come to an end after the Wawasee ace for much of the season couldn’t shake the bogey bug in her round and closed at 93. Morgan Reel had a 111, Ayla Torres a 119 and Delaney Delagrange a 122.
Action photos below by Mike Deak