KENDALLVILLE — Heidi Morganthaler’s first chip at the 18th green fell just a little short, and with it so did the NorthWood junior’s bid at a trip to the state finals.
Morganthaler struggled to get up and down during her one-hole playoff with Manchester’s Lindsay Budnik, who scrambled cleanly out of the far bunker on No. 18 at East Noble to save par and claim the last individual berth out to Friday’s 40th Annual IHSAA State Finals at the East Noble Girls Golf Regional Monday.
It was a heartbreaking season finish for Morganthaler, but one she already plans to use as motivation for her senior year.
“I knew I had to get my third shot up on that hill or it’s coming down. I kind of choked at it, and it went down,” said the Lady Panthers top flighter. “To give myself the best chance I had to finish it out strong, whether it’s bogey, double-bogey, par, I had to finish it out strong, whatever she would do. It didn’t come out the way I wanted it to, but it’ll just come back as motivation next year.”
“Some things didn’t work out today, but I tried, I gave it all I could, so that’s all I could really ask for,” Morganthaler added. “Results didn’t go in my hand today, but I can’t do anything about it. It’s golf.”
“Any time you’re playing a two for one spot for a chance to do something you’ve always wanted to do and you come out on the short end, you’re going to be disappointed,” said NorthWood girls golf coach Adam Yoder. “There’s nothing for her to really hang her head about; she got a good learning experience. We got a lot of those this year. The player she was last year to where she is today is just night and day. So we’re excited about the future.”
Led by Kari Bellville’s second-place round of 73, Penn won the team championship with a 323 team score, while Rochester continued its historic season with a 338 for runner-up honors, and Marion claimed the last team ticket to Franklin with a 339. East Noble’s Katie Sharp earned low medalist honors with a 1-under 71.
Morganthaler’s 81 paced the Panthers, who finished ninth with a 368, losing out to Bishop Dwenger on a fifth-score tiebreaker, while Plymouth closed out its season in 11th place with a 377.
“We’re pretty happy with that. A 377 is one of our better scores of the year. We scored better than we did at the sectional, and that’s really all you can ask. We were up against some pretty good competition,” said Plymouth head coach Bruce Rearick.
“The girls have done a great job all year. They just never quit, which I think is the best part about this team. It was a good year, a good year.”
The Lady Pilgrims were led by senior Emily Berger’s round of 87, while freshman Morgan Oberley fired a 94, senior Lauren Rearick and junior Emily Denney carded dual 98s, and junior Kelly Henderson shot 102 to close out Plymouth’s season in the middle of the pack in the program’s first trip to regional since 2010 following a third-place finish at the Warsaw Sectional last week in which the team edged out Wawasee on a fifth-score criterion.
“The girls played good, they hung in there. It’s what we’ve asked them to do all year, give us four scores the best you can do, and they did it,” said Bruce Rearick. “We’ve got to be pleased. We feel bad for the seniors that are done; they both had great careers. But the young girls, this is going to be a good taste for them to see what they need to do. They’re telling a story about Katie Sharp standing on the tee in the dark hitting balls getting ready, so they hear those stories and they understand what it takes to get to that level.”
A trio of area individuals closed out their seasons at East Noble at Monday’s tilt, which was postponed by lightning Saturday.
LaVille’s Lauren Rearick finished out a stellar freshman season with a 91 after advancing with an 84 out of the Penn Sectional Sept. 14, while Culver Girls Academy’s Samantha Seibel and Mackenzie Toth turned in respective scores of 85 and 89 to close out their seasons.
Monday’s East Noble tourney represented the second regional appearance in two tries for sophomore Toth, who advanced to the meet last year when she beat out Seibel in a three-way playoff for the third berth for an individual from a non-advancing team at the 2011 Warsaw Sectional.
It was another stepping stone for Toth, who shot 99 at regional last year, and a nice bookend to senior Seibel’s career as she saved her best round for last with a career-low 85 under less than ideal conditions at Cobblestone.
“Those were the best rounds they’ve shot all year. Mackenzie, I think she had seven three-putts, so to shoot 89 with seven three-putts, that’s the first time she’s broken 90. And Samantha, I think that’s her lowest round in the four years she’s been here (at CGA), so they’re both happy with what they shot,” said Culver Academies coach Fred Haase.
“It was tough last year because they were involved in that three-way playoff for one spot. Mackenzie won and so I had one happy girl and one crying girl, so it’s nice to have them both here. They both played well.”
While Morganthaler carded 81, Linzzie Richner shot 92 and Rachel Beebe shot 94 for NorthWood, and Kate Adams and Kayla Stankovich carded a pair of 101s to close out the Panthers’ season.
Morganthaler’s heartbreaking finish might not have been the note they wanted to close on, but it was a special year nonetheless for the team, which went unbeaten in dual meets at 13-0 en route to Northern Lakes Conference co-champion honors and a program-best runner-up result at last week’s East Noble Sectional for the team’s fourth regional berth in five years.
“Richner’s a freshman, Beebe’s a sophomore, and I think this is the third straight week where Richner has shot under her average. She actually beat Heidi last week. I’m really proud of both those two girls. We say goodbye to Kate Adams, a senior. She didn’t have her best round today, but she’s a great kid, has improved a lot,” Yoder said.
“We finished in the top half. For us to do that I think is pretty good. We shot under our average. I think everybody shot under their average, except I think Heidi shot maybe a stroke or two over. But everybody else had their average or below; it’s exciting. It was windy today, it’s a hard course, they played it from a collegiate length, which is how they should do it if they’re playing to go to state. It was a good season — the best in our history — so we can’t complain, I guess.”
• EAST NOBLE REGIONAL
At Cobblestone (Par 72)
Team scores: 1. Penn 323, 2. Rochester 338, 3. Marion 339, 4. Homestead 346, 5. Warsawa 357, 6. Dekalb 360, 7. East Noble 365, 8. Bishop Dwenger 368, 9. NorthWood 368, 10. St. Joe 374, 11. Plymouth 377, 12. Bellmont 380, 13. Mishawaka Marian 385, 14. Wabash 389, 15. Angola 389, 16. Elkhart Central 395, 17. Norwell 397, 18. Manchester 398.
Individuals advancing without a team: 1. Katherine Sharp (East Noble) 71, 2. Anna Wilcoxson (St. Joe) 76, 3. Mary Shipley (Fairfield) 79, 4. Melissa Greener (Concordia) 80, 5. Lindsey Budnif (Manchester) 81.
PENN (323): Kari Bellville 73, Katie Willenbrink 83, Emily Song 83, Madison Chesnutt 84, Audrey Henderson 87.
ROCHESTER (338): Karsten Lingenfelter 81, Lauren Daugherty 83, Kaitlin Foust at 84, Kovenant Lingenfelter 90, Lindsay Mitchell 113
WARSAW (357): Nikki Lalonde 87, Elizabeth Meadows 90, Alexis Manwaring 83, Morgan Sands 97, Ashley Murrell 115
NORTHWOOD (368): Heidi Morganthaler 81, Kate Adams 101, Rachel Beebe 94, Linnzie Richner 92, Kayla Stankovich 101.
PLYMOUTH (377): Emily Berger 87, Lauren Rearick 98, Emily Denney 98, Morgan Oberley 94, Kelly Henderson 102.
Area individuals: Samantha Seibel (CGA) 85, Mackenzie Toth (CGA) 89, Lauren Read (LaVille) 91.