BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS

Sports Editor, RTC

WINONA LAKE –- Rochester golfers Kristianna Lingenfelter and Karah Lingenfelter both conquered Stonehenge Golf Club well enough at the Warsaw sectional Saturday to advance to the regional.

As a team, RHS finished fifth in the eight-team field with a 413. Only the top three teams advanced.

But the top three individuals on non-advancing teams moved on, and Kristianna, who shot a 91, and Karah, who shot a 98, both advanced that way.

Kristianna, a senior, advanced for the third straight year. Karah, a sophomore and Kristianna’s younger sister, made it for the first time. Kristianna and Karah are among five Lingenfelter sisters who have advanced beyond the sectional, joining Karsten, Kovenant and Kinley.

Of the 43 golfers in the field, only 11 broke 100.

Noble Hawk Golf Links in Kendallville will host the regional on Saturday. Karah will tee off from hole No. 1 at 8:30 a.m. Kristianna will follow at 8:38 a.m.

“I’m extremely happy for them,” RHS coach Chad Thomas said. “I think that’s really cool. Their older sisters did the same thing where they both got out as individuals, and they got to repeat that process.”

Kristianna was the sectional medalist with a 71 in 2018. She shot an 87 at the 2019 sectional and also advanced.

“It feels good, even though I kind of played bad,” Kristianna said. “Ninety-one is like the worst I have shot all year, but I actually played really good on the front nine. I shot 40 and gave myself leeway to play a little bit bad on the back nine, because even if I shoot 45 or 46, that’s still less than what I shot last year. But then I ended up shooting 51 on the back nine.

“But it’s fine. It doesn’t really matter how I got there.”

Said Thomas: “Front nine, she was in a good spot. She started struggling with her swing, and she hit into some spots that you can’t hit it into, and when you do that out here, especially on the back nine, things are going to compound really, really quickly. She settled down there towards the end.”

Karah advanced by beating Wawasee’s Tate Cowan in a sudden death playoff. Each bogeyed the treacherous, dogleg-to-the-right, 382-yard par-5 18th hole.

So they had to play No. 18 again. This time, Cowan dumped her tee shot in the water, and Karah two-putted from 12 feet for a bogey and the win.

“I had anxiety for sure, but it was pretty fun,” Karah said of the playoff with Cowan. “But then again, I get so competitive it’s almost not fun because I have to win. I had to.”

Karah is known for playing faster than Kristianna.

“I had to tell her to slow down in the playoff,” Thomas said. “She’s a fast player in the first place, but when you’re nervous, you get even more fast, so I think a little nerves might have hit her there in the middle of a playoff, but she handled it really, really well. She played the hole the way you need to play the hole, and the second time around, she pulled it off better than she did the first time.”

Karah’s score was actually five strokes better at last year’s sectional when she did not advance. She said the greens were a lot quicker, and she said she was trying out a new set of clubs.

She said she is more extroverted than Kristianna.

“But for regionals, I’m fine with going,” Karah said. “I didn’t really not want to go, but I didn’t want to go. It was just a competition, so I just had to win. That’s kind of how I roll. I’m super competitive, and that’s why I don’t like to play golf that much. Because I get mean. I can get mean in my head. In my head. I’m not mean to the people, but in my mind, I get a little mean.”

Kristianna acknowledged Karah’s indifference but said she will treasure the experience like she did.

“I’m really happy because even though she probably doesn’t really want to play next weekend – she’d rather be doing something else – it’s still a good experience,” Kristianna said. “And she’ll remember it, and it’s a good time.”

They seem to handle adversity differently.

“When Karah gets mad, she might slam a club,” Kristianna said. “When I get mad, I’ll cry. And it’s very healthy. Crying is a very healthy emotional response.”

Karah said that Kristianna is a lot more introverted than she is.

“I cry a fair amount as well,” Karah said. “But I think that I’m definitely more extroverted. I like to be around more people. Golf-wise, she’ll cry about getting a bogey. I get bogey, and I’m like, ‘Alright, let’s go.’ I’m pretty OK with it.”

Both sisters overcame obstacles to reach the regional, whether it was the pandemic that forced Round Barn Golf Club at Mill Creek – their father Lyle is the PGA Professional there -- to close for over two months during the summer to long wait times on each hole that prevented them from getting in a good rhythm.

“When we have to start waiting 10 to 20 minutes on tees, it just falls away,” Kristianna said. “It was pretty bad today, the waiting was.”

Kristianna said the greens at Stonehenge were faster than the ones at Round Barn. She said she was even pushing uphill putts past the hole.

“I actually do want to go to state because it’s senior year,” Kristianna said. “But if I don’t, it’s OK because I’ve never been to state before, so I don’t have an expectation of having to go to state. But I do want to go to state, so I’m going to try to get out.”

Payton Moore shot a 110, Kat Rensberger had a 114, and Savanah Eccles had a 122.

Kristianna Lingenfelter is the team’s only senior.

Valley 187, Rochester 193 (Sept. 17)

Rochester’s Kristianna Lingenfelter took medalist honors with a 42, but Valley won the traditional regular season finale dual match against the team with whom they share Round Barn Golf Club at Mill Creek as a home course.

Madelyn Weaver and Kaydence Mellott each shot 45 to lead Valley. Molly Moriarty had a 47, Lily Ault had a 50, and Cheney Canada had a 57.

In addition to Kristianna Lingenfelter’s score, Karah Lingenfelter had a 46, Payton Moore had a 50, Kat Rensberger had a 55, and Delaney Barkman had a 65.

Avery Brouyette had a 56, Savannah Eccles had a 59, and Reagan Becker had a 63 for the RHS JV.

After the round, RHS coach Chad Thomas said Eccles would replace Barkman on the Lady Z sectional roster.

“This was a pretty good night for Karah, Payton, Kat, and then Savanah had a nice round for her tonight,” Thomas said. “So that’s good to see. We shot a team low for the year, and that’s the direction you want to be going and maybe gaining some confidence.”

at Round Barn Golf Club at Mill Creek Sept. 17 (back nine, par 36)

VALLEY (187): Madelyn Weaver 45, Kaydence Mellott 45, Molly Moriarty 47, Lily Ault 50, (Cheney Canada 57)

ROCHESTER (193): Kristianna Lingenfelter 42 (medalist), Karah Lingenfelter 46, Payton Moore 50, Kat Rensberger 55, (Delaney Barkman 65)

RHS JV: Avery Brouyette 56, Savannah Eccles 59, Reagan Becker 63


The Rochester girls golf team shot a 413 at the Warsaw sectional at Stonehenge Golf Club and finished fifth in a field of eight teams. From left – Karah Lingenfelter, Kristianna Lingenfelter, Kat Rensberger, Payton Moore, Savanah Eccles. Karah Lingenfelter, who shot a 98, and Kristianna Lingenfelter, who shot a 91, advanced to this Saturday’s regional at Noble Hawk Golf Links in Kendallville as individuals.


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