WARSAW — There’s an old saying in golf that you play the course, not your opponent.
While the Plymouth’s girls golf team is certainly happy to be seeded third at Saturday’s Warsaw Golf Sectional, that’s the mindset the Lady Pilgrims are trying to cultivate.
Plymouth enters this year’s 40th Annual IHSAA State Tournament with a strong record of 11-3 and wins at one time or another over every team in the field with the exception Rochester and Warsaw — the other two teams in Saturday’s first grouping — but first-year head coach Bruce Rearick is more concerned with Stonehenge than his girls’ pairings.
“The thing in the sectional that I’ve noticed — and this is my first year coaching, but I’ve certainly followed it since my daughter’s been playing and before with other girls that I used to teach — it’s more about controlling your emotions than it is who you’ve got to beat,” said Rearick. “The team that gets out is usually the one that just plays golf and doesn’t worry too much about what’s going on and kind of does their own thing; plays the golf course instead of playing the other team.”
Last year the Pilgrims finished fourth at the Warsaw tourney, just six strokes shy of regional advancement, and Plymouth finds itself on the bubble again as Saturday’s sectional looms with Culver Girls Academy, Wawasee — which edged Plymouth by five strokes at last weekend’s Northern Lakes Conference meet — and Columbia City all challenging for a top three spot in the second grouping of a competitive field. Triton will pair off with Tippecanoe Valley and Whitko in the final grouping at the meet.
One asset for the Pilgrims at this year’s tourney is experience as four of last year’s top five are back with the team in Lauren Rearick, Emily Berger, Kelly Henderson and Emily Denney, while only one golfer — freshman Morgan Oberley — will be playing in her first sectional tilt Saturday.
The Pilgrims were right in the thick of last season’s regional hunt, but a handful of holes on the back side at Stonehenge kept them from advancing. They’ll focus specifically on managing those challenging holes in their practice round today as they look to rewrite history.
“I think we know the golf course,” said Bruce Rearick. “We’re going to spend some time on just two or three holes that are tough to negotiate just because of water and length — it’s tough to lay up, and you can’t really go for it. It’s a driver, wedge, 6 iron type of thing. So we’re going to try to work on strategy to handle those holes because if you take the 11th and 12th holes at Stonehenge out of our score, last year we qualify. So we’re going to spend a lot of time working on the strategy of those holes, and I think it’ll help with nerves if we go in there knowing what we want to try to do and knowing that you don’t need to be a hero to shoot the score on that hole that we need to move on to the next level.”
Even if Plymouth fails to advance, any one of its players stands a shot at making the individual cut out to the East Noble Regional as the Pilgrims have put up consistent scores from one to five all year. CGA’s Samantha Seibel and Mackenzie Toth are both possibilities as well if the Lady Eagles fall short of advancing in the team tourney, while Triton’s best hopes lie in Hannah Jennings and Lizzy Erne.
First tee times are scheduled for 9:30 a.m.
LaPorte, Penn Sectionals
While Plymouth, Triton and CGA compete at Saturday’s Warsaw Sectional at Stonehenge, three other area teams will kick-start the IHSAA golf series Friday.
Bremen and LaVille play in the Penn Sectional at Knollwood, scheduled to start at 9 a.m., while John Glenn makes its first trip to the LaPorte Sectional at Beechwood, also scheduled for 9 a.m. EST.
“By the luck of a realignment into the LaPorte Sectional only six teams will have enough girls to compete for the team title so in that regard we have a 50-50 chance to move on,” said Glenn head coach Randy Schmeltz. “LaPorte seems to be the favorite at this time. New Prairie and LaPorte have a lot of access to the course, and I have not seen very many team scores in the paper for Michigan City or Hanover Central, and North Judson is very competitive as well. New Prairie won our conference and we were five shots off in third. I really believe any three teams could advance with a good day on the course.”
“In all the team is excited with the new format and location at LaPorte and are looking forward to Friday’s competition,” he added.
Glenn’s Maddy Silvey and Morgan Eggleston look to lead the Lady Falcons after All-Northern State Conference finishes last Saturday, and the rest of the team seems to be peaking at the right time as well.
“I have four girls averaging in the 50s, and three of them have been in the 40s this year, and because of the site and size of our sectional anything below 100 could possibly be in the hunt,” said Schmeltz. “Madeleine Silvey, a junior, has really come in to her own the past three weeks taking over our number one position. Sophomore Morgan Eggleston is playing her best golf of the season as well. Another sophomore, Kaylee Matz is constantly in the low 50s and is improving every week. Junior Emma Reese just shot a 47 in our last match at Christiana Creek to lead our team to a 15-9 season record.”
Bremen edged out Glenn by a stroke for runner-up honors at last Saturday’s Northern State Conference meet on the Lady Lions’ home course at Sprig O’Mint and has a shot to qualify for next weekend’s East Noble Regional as the Penn Sectional convenes Friday. Kaitlyn Ahlenius and Melissa Krathwohl tied for fifth at the NSC meet, and teammate Kayleigh Daily also earned all-conference honors.
LaVille comes into the Penn tourney with an even 9-9 record as both the Lancers and the Lions will look to contend for the final spot out in the top three behind clear favorites Penn — which finished second at last year’s state finals — and St. Joseph’s, both of whom call Knollwood their home course.
“The girls have steadily improved throughout the season. (It’s a) good time for the sectional as we have had two solid scores this week at Swan Lake, Monday and Wednesday,” said LaVille head coach Steve Read. “Key to advancing to next round is that all the girls shoot below season average.”
While LaVille will have to find a way to bring its team score down at an unfamiliar course, Lady Lancers number one Lauren Read should be in the hunt for advancement following her strong turn as individual NSC champion last weekend and four top 10 invitational finishes this season, including a runner-up placement at the Caston Invite. She also has a few rounds under her belt at Knollwood and a pretty good idea of who she’ll be up against.
“My daughter has played there annually in the St. Joseph County Junior Tour, where she has competed against many of her sectional competitors,” said Steve Read. “She’s been playing very consistently considering she is a freshman.”