SYRACUSE — A near-record start helped Concord finish off the first Northern Lakes Conference girls golf championship in program history.
By shooting 163 on the front nine at South Shore Golf Club, the Minutemen were one stroke off the school record for nine holes. Concord shot 162 in winning the 2020 NorthWood Invitational Aug. 6 at McCormick Creek in Nappanee.
Saturday’s strong beginning was followed by a 170 on the back nine. The 333 total helped the Minutemen best NorthWood (340), Warsaw (386), Plymouth (390), Goshen (393), Wawasee (394), Northridge (433) and Mishawaka (447).
Combining dual and tournaments together, Concord end NorthWood’s title streak. The Panthers had won eight straight NLC girls golf crowns (2012-19).
Concord had gone 7-0 in NLC duals, topping NorthWood 171-177 Aug. 25 at Bent Oak in Elkhart, Mishawaka 165-248 and Wawasee 165-207 Aug. 27 at Bent Oak, Warsaw 168-196 and Goshen 168-214 Sept. 1 at Stonehenge in Warsaw and Plymouth 185-204 and Northridge 185-249 Sept. 3 at Pretty Lake in Plymouth.
Concord’s Tara Boessler and NorthWood’s Adam Yoder were named co-NLC Coaches of the Year. The Minutemen shot 332 for a two-shot win against the Panthers back in August.
Was Boessler thinking of a certain number at the NLC?
“In golf, you’re always expecting a perfect shot and you never get them,” said Boessler. “It’s a game of managing your mistakes. As a team, we try to keep them from that mentality of always expecting a perfect shot.
“The kids are shooting low enough that those strokes matter — especially by first three — when you’re trying to shoot in the 70’s. It was a matter of trying to keep those kids calm.
“You know the course. You practice course management. You hit the next one where you need to and you move on.”
The trophy was earned by the quintet of Belle Brunner (76), Brooke Watson (82), Gracie Tucker (85), Evelyn Theinert (90) and Rayna Boessler (104).
“I know that every single shot counts for the team and that’s what I was focused on individually, really,” said Brunner. “Not so much my total score.
“If I didn’t hit my drive good then I’d make up for it with a really good putt.”
The Minutemen coach said the conference title is sweet, but their sights have been set higher.
“They’ve always been looking forward to that sectional day,” says Boessler. The East Noble Sectional is Friday, Sept. 18 at Cobblestone Golf Course in Kendallville.
It took a two-hole playoff Saturday to determine the NLC medalist. NorthWood’s Cybil Stillson and Concord’s Brunner finished 18 holes tied a 76. They both shot a 5 on par-4 No. 18.
Stillson won the playoff with a 4 on par-4 No. 1. The left-hander’s drive landed 30 yards from the green. She shot a wedge onto the green and two-putted for the victory.
With the regular season gone, Stillson has switched into postseason mode.
“The season basically starts now and goes for the next few weekends,” said Stillson. “Going into playoff holes with Belle is so much fun. She’s a good friend of mine. We’ve played a lot of golf together.
“My mindset was to focus on me. I honestly did not look at any of her shots during the playoff.”
Brunner, who was in the rough after her first shot, behind a bush after her second and just off the green with her third, got close to the pin with her fourth shot.
Concord’s No. 1 player has been enjoying the ride as have her teammates.
“We’re all happy to be together on such a good team,” said Brunner. “We have a lot of fun together.
“We were all very thankful to have a season (during the COVID-19 pandemic). We were happy to have practice and see each other every day.”
Brunner was very familiar with South Shore since she grew up across the street from the course that opened in 1929 and will close at the end of this month.
“I would play her every day,” said Brunner. “Normally I don’t go into the trees, but I got unlucky on the last two holes I played.
“I actually enjoy playing with Cybil because we’re about the same and it always pushes me to play better.”
Brunner, Stillson and Plymouth’s Olivia Horvath were paired together Saturday.
NLC GIRLS GOLF TOURNAMENT RESULTS
(At South Shore)
Concord 333 — Belle Brunner 39-37—76, Brooke Watson 40-42—82, Gracie Tucker 41-44—85, Evelyn Theinert 43-47—90, Rayna Boessler 53-51—104.
NorthWood 340 — Cybil Stillson 36-40—76, Bre Goss 37-40—77, Abbie Richter 43-47—90, Riley Kitson 51-46—97, Kira Shock 50-61—111.
Warsaw 386— Olivia Robinson-Gay 45-44—89, Sydney Lancaster 49-44—93, Marie Frazzetta 52-47—99, Brooklyn Fitzgerald 54-51—105, Abigail Davis 54-52—106.
Plymouth 391 — Olivia Horvath 42-50—92, Elaina McDonald 47-49—96, Annastasia Hutchings 52-45—97, Emma Rozycki 51-55—106, Hannah LaFree 57-54—111.
Goshen 393 — Maya Narayan 49-47—96, Briza-Tayagua-Delgado 47-50—97, McKenna Cripe 49-48—97, Estella Borden 51-52—103, Jenna Vanderwey 59-58—117.
Wawasee 394 — Taylor Cripe 44-45—89, Rylee Firestone 49-47—96, Tate Cowan 45-48—93, Delaney Delagrange 57-59—116, Izy Losee 55-63—118.
Northridge 433 — Karisa Dyer 48-47—95, Peyton Roberts 54-54—108, Isabela Lawrence 54-59—113, Morgan Roan 60-57—117, Maria Papandrea 66-69—135.
Mishawaka 447 — Grace Vanderburg 42-52—94, Claire Braniff 52-61—113, Lillian Stone 56-59—115, Sabrina Line 61-64—125, Kloey Kinnear 67-65—132.
Medalist: Cybil Stillson (NorthWood) 76 (won two-hole playoff against Concord’s Belle Brunner).
Overall NLC champion: Concord.
All-NLC: First team — Cybil Stillson (NorthWood), Belle Brunner (Concord), Bre Goss (NorthWood), Brooke Watson (Concord), Gracie Tucker (Concord), Taylor Cripe (Wawasee), Olivia Robinson-Gay (Warsaw), Abbie Richner (NorthWood), Evelyn Theinert (Concord), Olivia Horvath (Plymouth). Honorable mention — Tate Cowan (Wawasee), Riley Kitson (NorthWood), Karisa Dyer (Northridge), Grace Vandenberg (Mishawaka), Sydney Lancaster (Warsaw).