NAPPANEE — Talk about making a statement.

In the inaugural NorthWood girls golf Invitational, the Panthers set a program record for an 18-hole invitational, scoring a 305 to win on their home course in Nappanee. Penn finished second with a team score of 322.

“Our expectations are pretty high, and I know the girls were really excited to play their home course for an invitational. They went out there and really putted well,” NorthWood coach Adam Yoder said. “I would’ve thought somewhere under 320 is where I would’ve guessed we finished.”

NorthWood was once again led by Cybil Stillson. The sophomore carded a 73 at McCormick Creek Golf Course, finishing tied for second with teammate Breanna Goss, Penn’s Grace Szklarek and Northridge’s Braedyn O’Dell. The Kingsmen’s Lyria Li earned individual medalist honors with a 70.

Stillson has already cemented herself as the No. 1 golfer for a NorthWood team that was ranked No. 9 in the preseason IHSGCA polls. Having a reliable top player is a benefit for Yoder and the Panthers.

“It’s a real nice luxury. She’s just really solid, even when she doesn’t have it. And, I think she would say (Thursday) is a day that she didn’t necessarily have her best game,” Yoder said. “But, she finds a way to grind out a score. She never quits. Even if she’s not going to win the tournament, individually, she’s definitely thinking about her teammates and how important it is she finishes well for the team.”

NorthWood comes in to the 2019 season with high expectations, as indicative of its No. 9 ranking. Yoder welcomes the pressure of being a top-10 team in the state.

“We don’t really worry about the rankings. We look at it, if anything, we look at it as an advantage that people are saying, ‘Well, this is the ninth-ranked team in the state,’” Yoder said. “It’s a nice honor. I run the statewide poll, but I’m not crunching the numbers. The coaches around the state put us there — I can tell you I didn’t put us there.

“This team definitely has earned the accolades they’re getting early in the year.”

Fellow Northern Lakes Conference foe, Northridge, finished third with a 344. Coach Ken Brewster was impressed by the play of his No. 3 and 4 players, Jules Weaver and Emily Mack, respectively.

“I’m pretty happy with my ‘3’ and ‘4.’ (Weaver) shot 87, (Mack) shot 105. People might think, ‘That’s not really good,’ but (Mack) last year was shooting 120. She’s got the skills to get under 100,” Brewster said. “I’m encouraged. This is one of our better scores. I think we shot a 332 at regionals last year, and that was at the end of the year when everyone was primed. So, to start this way — I’m encouraged, to be honest.”

Northridge made a team regional appearance last season and have aspirations of making it back this season. In a loaded regional, though, they know making the state tournament will be tough.

“We definitely have some work to do, because I think it’s going to be Penn and us and maybe DeKalb for that third spot at regionals to go to state,” said Brewster, referencing the top three teams from each regional advance to the state meet. “So, we have some work to do, but it’s early.”

The Raiders and Panthers will get a taste of what the state tournament is like this Saturday at the State Preview Golf Tournament at Prairie View Golf Course in Carmel. NorthWood qualified for the tournament by virtue of making the state tournament a season ago, while Northridge applied to be one of five at-large teams in the field.

Yoder is keeping his expectations reasonable as the Panthers prepare for their toughest competition of the early season.

“What we’ve tried to do with this program is put ourselves in positions where we’re going to have some hard experiences and we’re going to get beat sometimes,” Yoder said. “We’re going to get beat by a lot of teams on Saturday, there’s no question about it. But we’re going to beat a lot of teams, too. I think there are 18 teams in the state preview — finishing in the top-half of the field I think is a realistic goal for this group.”

Austin Hough can be reached at austin.hough@goshennews.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 325. Follow Austin on Twitter @AustinHoughTGN

2019 NORTHWOOD GIRLS GOLF INVITATIONAL RESULTS

1. NorthWood 305 — Cybil Stillson 73, Breanna Goss 73, Kirsten Schrock 78, Delaney Davis 81, Makena Gall 86

2. Penn 322 — Lyvia Li 70, Grace Szklarek 73, Meghan Mounts 87, Sydney Szklarek 92, Kate Burnett 105

3. Northridge 344 — Braedyn O'Dell 73, Ashley Brewster 79, Jules Weaver 87, Emily Mack 105, Peyton Roberts 137

4. South Bend St. Joseph 351 — Katie Kloska 79, Mackenzie Schmeltz 84, Bella Saratore 91, Gillian Lippert 97, Isabella Riboni 115

5. Concord 374 — Gracie Tucker 88, Lauren Boessler 90, Evelyn Theinert 95, Gaby Sponseller 101, Rayna Boessler 104

6. Wawasee 377 — Belle Brunner 87, Taylor Cripe 96, Valerie Haessig 96, Tate Cowan 98, Jadison Rostochak 102

7. NorthWood JV 385 — Abbie Richner 81, Kylee Gall 84, Riley Kitson 100, Bella Sechrist 120, Kira Schrock 130

8. John Glenn 386 — Abby Machnic 84, Megan Kobelt 93, Cassidy McMahon 104, Emma Egger 105, Jessica Yelaska 123

9. Angola 399 — Teryn Stanley 78, Victoria Miller 100, Katie Smith 109, Ann Reiniche 112, Isabell Deem 119

10. Warsaw 399 — Marie Frazzetta 92, Grayson Kilburn 102, Delaney Byron 102, Sydney Lancaster 103, Brooklyn Fitzgerald 103

11. Fremont 409 — Katie Baker 98, Halle Toner 99, Kenadee Porath 104, Janessa Ritter 117, Rylee Boyd 141

12. Mishawaka Marian 417 — Rosa Trippel 75, Ariana Kujawski 101, Alivia Weisser 113, May Weston 128, Delaney Dennison 134

13. Lakeland 423 —Madison Keil 87, Sadie Edsal 107, Kylee Watkins 112, Tatum Ritterbush 116, Amelia Trump 124

14. Elkhart Memorial 426 — Courtney King 84, Lily Ball 90, Morgan Kast 122, Natalie Wolschlager 130, Brooklyn Jensen 134

15. Mishawaka 474 — Grace Vanderburg 106, Joszlyn Thompson 118, Liv Stamm 123, Claire Braniff 127, Sarah Burns 135

16. Jimtown 525 — Kate Behrens 119, Hanna Skibbe 129, Alexis Newell 135, Adriana Skibbe 142

17. Fairfield Incomplete (only three players) — Trinity Ruiz 107, Ashlynn Yoder 127, Annika Eppert 135

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