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  • Val T.

Rochester shoots 371, finishes 12th at regional at windy Sandy Pines

Riffle shoots 86, McLochlin 91 in final prep rounds


BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS

Sports Editor, RTC


The Rochester boys golf team shot a 371 and finished 12th out of 15 teams at the Lake Central regional at Sandy Pines Golf Club in DeMotte Thursday, ending their season.



DEMOTTE — Sandy Pines Golf Club is enchanting and well-kempt, but it has narrow


Rochester freshman Isaac Heishman putts on the 16th green during Thursday’s regional at Sandy Pines Golf Club in DeMotte. Heishman, whose round was highlighted by a birdie on the par-3 13th hole, shot a 98.

fairways and undulating greens and teems with bunkers and water hazards.

Throw in swirling winds, and it became a beautiful nightmare for the Rochester boys golf team at the Lake Central regional Thursday as they shot a 371 and finished 12th in the 15-team field.

Noah Riffle shot an 86 to lead Rochester in his final high school round. J.R. McLochlin added a 91 in his fourth regional, Davis Renie had a 96, Isaac Heishman had a 98, and Ashton Musselman shot a 100.

Valparaiso won their second straight regional title with a 314, and Trinity Greenlawn (322) and Chesterton (329) also advanced to state.

Elkhart’s Steven Webb (77), Penn’s Jack Yewchuck (77) and Andrean’s Ivan Mastalski (78) had the three lowest scores among individuals on non-advancing teams and also advanced.

Pioneer’s Ivan Reyes shot a 94, and teammate Micah Rans shot a 98 in the final round of their seasons. Reyes, a freshman, and Rans, a sophomore, were the first Pioneer players to compete at the regional in 12 years.

Valparaiso’s Colin Kaleth, who was a playing partner of Heishman’s, shot a 75 to earn medalist for the second straight year. 

Temperatures were comfortable in the low 80s. Clouds were patchy. But the story of the round was the wind, which was unpredictable in both force and direction.

“It was brutal out there,” Rochester coach Mason Heyde said. “Especially when Noah made the turn. The last three holes were pretty rough for him, and he said, ‘I only hit one bad shot on those holes.’ That’s when you know that the wind’s swirling around and not consistent. If the wind was consistent in one direction, that would help, but the fact that it was swirling … it was so hard to judge how the wind was going to affect it on each shot. And it was different each shot of every hole.”

Riffle echoed those frustrations.

“Well, I struck the ball well the entire round,” Riffle said. “It’s just I didn’t do very well in the wind calculations. It kinda sucks because I struck it so well that I feel I could have made it out. But it just happens. Stuff happens.”

There are bunkers on 17 holes at the fittingly named Sandy Pines. At No. 13, a par-3, the bunker that guards the left side of the fairway is so deep that course managers installed staircases to help players climb in and out of it.

“I didn’t see anything tragic out there,” Heyde said. “They’re really soft, different than what we play but really good sand in them. I saw a lot of people go long with their bunker shots, but they at least got out and got on the green for the most part that I saw.”

Rochester shot a 367 and finished 12th at last year’s regional. Riffle, McLochlin and Musselman returned from last year’s team.

Renie, Musselman and Heishman figure to be the core of next year’s team. Heyde is hoping that next year’s players play a lot over the summer.

“Davis will be a senior next year,” Heyde said. “I wish he would have started golfing as a freshman, but he’s improved so much, and he’s been playing really well. We should still have a pretty good squad. We’ve got some other guys that were really improving this year. Hopefully, we’re back here next year.”

Riffle and McLochlin

Riffle said that when he and McLochlin were freshmen that they were very competitive with each other. As seniors, they became closer friends.

Now life is pulling them apart. Riffle is headed to Grace College to continue his golf and academic careers. McLochlin leaves for Air Force basic training in San Antonio on June 14. He said he decided to enlist “about six months ago.”

McLochlin was asked if he and Riffle have similar attitudes towards golf.

“That is very hard to say,” McLochlin said. “Some days, we can be on the same page. Other days, we can definitely have our ups and downs.”

Riffle referred to a 2020 ESPN documentary about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls when talking about his relationship with McLochlin.

“I would say if you’ve ever watched ‘The Last Dance’ documentary, I would say this describes it perfectly: Before regionals, I was practicing a lot, and J.R. went to Holiday World,” Riffle said. “I think it both fits us well. He works well when he’s relaxed and he can take a break. I like to be really prepared for things. We both love the game of golf and are both very competitive about it. I think that’s similar but how we handle tournaments is different.”

Riffle played for Dan Bailey during his freshman and sophomore years. Heyde took over in 2023 after Bailey resigned.

“Dan and Mason are very different coaches,” Riffle said. “At the end of the day, would it have changed how I scored? I don’t know.”

McLochlin said the two coaches both gave him what he needed when he played for them.

“Honestly, I liked Dan, and I also liked Mason, but I feel like Mason was a lot more laid-back,” McLochlin said. “I understood why Dan had to leave. It didn’t really bother me that much. Dan just felt a lot more strict, but that’s what you need in a coach. But also at the same time, I also like a laid-back coach that you can have fun and have jokes with.”

As for Riffle and McLochlin, Heyde said they kept the team “in check.”

“Especially Noah, he’s just so stoic and knows what to do,” Heyde said. “I didn’t get to see him freshman and sophomore year, but last year, he was a really good golfer and even better this year. And I can’t wait to see what he does in college.”

McLochlin played the final five holes in even-par despite the difficult conditions.

“I finished stronger than what I started,” McLochlin said. “I feel a bit disappointed. I could have definitely gone a lot lower, but the wind just really messed me up in general. But, I mean, it’s whatever. … It was coming left, right, right in front of me, right behind me. It was changing  every minute. It was just hard to dictate. I was indecisive in between clubs. and it was just really hard.”

“J.R., he can score,” Heyde said. “When he’s hitting the ball well, he can score. … I think he kinda stopped caring, which can be good. You just go out there, and you’re a little more loose and having fun and swinging. He’s a great ball striker.”

LAKE CENTRAL REGIONAL

at Sandy Pines Golf Club, DeMotte, Thursday (par 72)

Valparaiso 314, Trinity Greenlawn 322, Chesterton 329, Munster 330, Crown Point 331, Twin Lakes 340, South Bend St. Joe 341, Mishawaka Marian 346, LaPorte 351, Andrean 351, Logansport 361, ROCHESTER 371, New Prairie 374, Portage 388, South Central (Union Mills) 391

VALPARAISO (314): Kaleth 75, Gutierrez 77, Utesch 81, Abel 81, (Carlson 86)

TRINITY GREENLAWN (322): Swiker 77, J. Palmer 79, N. Palmer 79, J. Cressy 87, (M. Cressy 89)

CHESTERTON (329): Paul Scott 78, Smith 80, Brazil 84, Phil Scott 87, (Ennis 92)

MUNSTER (330): Landmesser 79, Mulcahy 81, Sudac 84, Eplawy 86, (Bognar 90)

CROWN POINT (331): Pendergast 80, Wool 82, Babcock 82, Pierson 87, (Granger 91)

TWIN LAKES (340): Ousley 81, Dellinger 83, Kaufman 87, Kyser 89, (Woodley 98)

SOUTH BEND ST. JOE (341): Raster 82, Guyton 84, Basney 87, Kloska 88, (Hirschler 96)

MISHAWAKA MARIAN (346): Hahn 86, Bishop 86, B. Padrnos 86, Horvath 88, (J. Padrnos 89)

LAPORTE (351): Kring 86, Albin 86, Cannon 89, Mrizinski 90, (Blank 93)

ANDREAN (351): Mastalski 78, Trtan 85, Cusick 93, Urbanski 95, (Alvarez DQ)

LOGANSPORT (361): Taylor 82, Brandstatter 89, Rozzi 95, Lange 95, (Baldwin 97)

ROCHESTER (371): Noah Riffle (46-40) 86, J.R. McLochlin (47-44) 91, Davis Renie (47-49) 96, Isaac Heishman (49-49) 98, (Ashton Musselman (50-50) 100)

NEW PRAIRIE (374): Zdyb 86, B. Sinka 88, Shelton 97, C. Sinka 103, (Chalik 107)

PORTAGE (388): Sevey-Brooks 86, Fengya 90, Goffette 97, M. Wellman 115, (S. Wellman 125)

SOUTH CENTRAL (UNION MILLS) (391): Haschel 85, Schroeder 99, Stath 101, Eaton 106, (Hiigli 126)

Competing as individuals: Yewchuck (Penn) 77, Webb (Elkhart) 77, Morton (Lake Central) 81, Lublow (Hanover Central) 84, Mushett (Rensselaer) 88, Humpal (Boone Grove) 89, Green (Michigan City) 91, Basney (Penn) 93, Ivan Reyes (Pioneer) (47-47) 94, Sobecki (Lowell) 94, Glass (Hobart) 95, Eberle (Hobart) 96, Micah Rans (Pioneer) (52-46) 98, Engibous (Morgan Township) 99, Koselke (Tri-Township) 113 

Top three individuals on non-advancing teams: t-1. Jack Yewchuck (Penn) 77, t-1. Steven Webb (Elkhart) 77, 3. Ivan Mastalski (Andrean) 78

Medalist: Colin Kaleth (Valparaiso) 75


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