GRANGER — Area golfers battled some nerves at the Penn Sectional, and Bremen, John Glenn and LaVille closed out their seasons at Knollwood Country Club Friday.
No. 1-ranked Penn was led by dual low medal 76s from Karie Bellville and Anastasia Carter to claim its fourth straight sectional title with a 376 team score, while Marian placed second with a 376, and Adams grabbed the final ticket out to next week’s LaPorte Regional with a 417.
Bremen finished sixth just two strokes back of Riley with a 433, while John Glenn carded a 471 for ninth place, and LaVille turned in a 534 for 11th in the team standings.
Both Bremen’s veteran squad, which boasted four seniors, and LaVille’s young squad, composed of two freshmen, a sophomore and two juniors, struggled with unusually high scores off the bus before settling in after the turn.
“We thought we might be in competition for third place, and we really struggled on the first nine,” said Bremen Head Girls Golf Coach Don Harrison. “My number one player shot a 60, and she normally shoots in the high 40s, low 50s, so that gives you some idea of the direction we were headed. Overall, I think we shot about 20 strokes higher than we should have.”
“I think they were pretty tight this morning,” Harrison continued. “I don’t want to blame it on that. We’ve been up here two years in a row with me, and when we get here, we have a tendency to tense up a little bit, and it takes us awhile to relax. We played here last night, and we shot 52s, 53s, that kind of score, and then we get here in the actual competition and score considerably higher so a lot of it is mental. A little bit of panic set in, I guess.”
“Our goal was to shoot under 500, and we had a weak front nine slash back nine because we played the back first,” said LaVille coach Steve Read. “Actually, the back is easier than the front, but I think it was just jitters. But we came back on the harder side and played better, so I was proud of that effort.”
Glenn finished 54 strokes out of contention for a team regional berth Friday, but the Lady Falcons cut last year’s score by a whopping 64 strokes to move from last place into ninth this year.
“We’re 50 shots better than last year. I think that’s a big improvement. We have two freshmen, two sophomores and one senior,” said Glenn coach Randy Schmeltz. “If we can do that again next year, then we’ll be close.”
Bremen was led by lone underclassman Melissa Krathwohl’s 104, while Kaylin Worthington shot 108, Kailyn Weiss turned in a 110, and usual No. 1 Laura Davis carded a 111. Lindsey Allen turned in a 113 in the fifth spot for the Lady Lions, who finish out the season with 11 wins and a runner-up finish in the Northern State Conference.
The team bids good-bye to all but sophomore Krathwohl.
“I’ve got four seniors, and they’ve been an outstanding group all the way through,” said Harrison. “Every one of them has contributed throughout the season. All in all, when you look at our season compared to last year we’ve improved dramatically. I think we had a losing season last year, and this year we went 11-6 in head to head competition. We improved in the New Prairie Invitational, I think we’re about in the same place at sectional as we were last year. So all in all, a good season, and I think that’s attributable to the seniors that we have.”
Glenn was also led by one of its newcomers as freshman Morgan Eggleston carded her first-ever birdie on her way to a team-low 105. Fellow freshman Presley Gee shot a 122, while Anna Dunn shot 115, Emma Reese shot 129, and Maddie Silvey came in at 133.
The Falcons bid good-bye to only one golfer in senior Dunn, a 2010 transfer from Plymouth.
“She came in and stepped right in the varsity lineup last year and helped us out,” said Schmeltz of Dunn. “We were 7-13 last year, and we were 13-10 this year so we’re moving in the right direction. We have a lot more girls coming out for the team; the numbers are higher, which creates better selection. I’d like to say we’re going to take a big jump next year, but it has to do with all of them playing during the summer and joining the Marshall County Tour, the St. Joe Tour to get more competitive golf in.”
LaVille was led Friday by No. 3 Tana Newkirk’s 128, while Shayla Eggert carded a 130, Whitney Brown shot 133, Melissa Hall returned from a protracted illness to shoot 143, and Casey Turak turned in a 182 as the young Lancers closed out their season.
With no seniors on this year’s team, the future looks bright for LaVille.
“I guarantee that we can improve upon the scores that we posted this year, but it all depends on how much the girls want to participate in summer recreation and how involved they want to get in the Marshall County Junior Tour and the St. Joe County Junior Tour,” said Read.
• PENN GOLF SECTIONAL
At Knollwood Country Club (Par 72)
Team scores: 1. Penn 314, 2. Marian 376, 3. Adams 417, 4. St. Joe 420, 5. Riley 431, 6. Bremen 433, 7. Clay 447, 7. Washingon 447, 9. John Glenn 471, 10. Mishawaka 480, 11. LaVille 534
BREMEN (433): Laura Davis 111, Kailyn Weiss 110, Kaylin Worthington 108, Melissa Krathwohl 104, Lindsey Allen 113
GLENN (471): Anna Dunn 115, Morgan Eggleston 105, Presley Gee 122, Maddie Silvey 133, Emma Reese 129
LAVILLE (534): Shayla Eggert 130, Tana Newkirk 128, Whitney Brown 133, Melissa Hall 143, Casey Turak 182
“If they want to do those things, they will improve; if they don’t then they’ll pick up where they left off and improve a little bit rather than a lot.”