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There’s a first time for every swing: Valley girls golf takes third at sectional, advances to first

Lingenfelter sisters advance as individuals to regional


Sports Editor, RTC

WINONA LAKE –- The stunned look on the faces of the players on the Tippecanoe Valley girls golf team said it all at the Warsaw sectional at Stonehenge Golf Club Saturday.

On a day in which they didn’t feel like they played their best and on a course where it might have seemed difficult to control their putts due to its slick greens, they still made even more history by advancing to the regional for the first time in school history.

Valley advanced by shooting a 404 and placing third in the eight-team field. The top three teams advance to regional.

NorthWood won the sectional with a 346, and Warsaw was second with a 391. They also advanced.

Madelyn Weaver shot a 93 to lead Valley. Molly Moriarty had a 97, Cheney Canada had a 106, Kaydence Mellott had a 108, and Lily Ault had a 109.

Valley had won the Three Rivers Conference title one week earlier. It was their first conference title since 2001.

This time, their score was 22 strokes higher than one week earlier. Still, it was good enough.

“We played poorly, honestly, as a team,” Valley coach Thadd Mellott said. “It was around the greens. Obviously, Stonehenge is a lot different. The greens are a little faster than most. And our girls really struggled to adjust. But, that being said, we were good enough to advance, so I am over-the-moon ecstatically happy, and you know, for a team of sophomores and a junior, I’ll take it.”

Rochester was fifth with a 413, but Kristianna Lingenfelter and Karah Lingenfelter both advanced to the regional as individuals. Kristianna Lingenfelter shot a 91, and Karah Lingenfelter shot a 98.

Kristianna Lingenfelter, a senior and the sectional medalist in 2018, advanced to the regional for the third straight year.

Karah Lingenfelter beat Wawasee’s Tate Cowan in the second hole of a sudden death playoff for the final individual regional spot. Karah Lingenfelter, a sophomore who is Kristianna’s younger sister, earned her first regional trip and became the fifth Lingenfelter sister to at least make it to regionals.

Plymouth’s Olivia Horvath also shot a 98 and was entitled to participate in the playoff with Karah Lingenfelter and Cowan, but she did not compete and was not spotted at the golf course.

In addition to the top three teams, the top three individuals on non-advancing teams moved on. Wawasee’s Taylor Cripe, who shot an 89, also advanced as an individual.

Besides the Lingenfelter sisters, other RHS players included freshman Payton Moore, who shot a 110; junior Kat Rensberger, who had a 114; and sophomore Savanah Eccles, who had a 122.

Molly’s game

Moriarty and Canada both lowered their score from the TRC tournament. Moriarty shot a 97 at the sectional after shooting a 100 at the TRC tournament.

“We definitely have all worked a lot harder and just focused a lot more,” Moriarty said. “For each shot, we make sure to take a lot more time than we normally would. We want to make sure to get it perfect. … I think we wanted it so bad that we really all strived to get it.”

Moriarty is the granddaughter of the late Roger Moriarty, who coached Valley girls and boys golfers for decades and who died Feb. 25. Molly said her grandfather introduced her to the game and bought her a set of clubs when she was 4 years old.

She laughed recalling her golfing memories with her grandfather.

“He taught me to always keep everyone else’s score to make sure they don’t cheat,” Molly said. “But definitely, he always taught me how to putt real well because that’s the most important part of the game.”

Kaydence Mellott said she didn’t do her best but was glad everyone else did. She said she was shocked that her team finished in the top three.

“Definitely in practice, we’re more concentrated than last year,” Kaydence Mellott said. “I think it’s because we realize that we’re actually doing good and we can actually accomplish big things. I think our drive for it and our concentration has just gotten way better.”

East Noble High School will host the regional at Noble Hawk Golf Links in Kendallville on Saturday.

Karah Lingenfelter will tee off at 8:30 a.m., and Kristianna Lingenfelter will tee off at 8:38 a.m.

Canada will tee off at 8:54 a.m., Ault will tee off at 9:02 a.m., Moriarty will tee off at 9:10 a.m, Mellott will tee off at 9:18 a.m., and Weaver will tee off at 9:26 a.m.

All area players will tee off from the front nine.

NorthWood’s Cybil Stillson shot a 76 and won sectional medalist honors for the second straight year. Teammates Breanna Goss (81) and Abigail Richner (87) gave NorthWood the three lowest scores in the field of 43 players.

NorthWood has won the sectional five of the last seven years.

WARSAW GIRLS GOLF SECTIONAL RESULTS: NorthWood 346, Warsaw 391, Tippecanoe Valley 404, Wawasee 409, Rochester 413, Plymouth 415, Whitko 417, Bremen 468, Triton (incomplete team)

NORTHWOOD (346): Stillson 76, Goss 81, Richner 87, Kitson 102, (Schrock 122)

WARSAW (391): Frazzetta 91, Lancaster 94, Byron 99, Davis 107, (Fitzgerald 107)

VALLEY (404): Madelyn Weaver 93, Molly Moriarty 97, Cheney Canada 106, Kaydence Mellott 108, (Lily Ault 109)

WAWASEE (409): Cripe 89, Cowan 98, Firestone 107, Torres 115, (Losee 121)

ROCHESTER (413): Kristianna Lingenfelter 91, Karah Lingenfelter 98, Payton Moore 110, Kat Rensberger 114, (Savanah Eccles 122)

PLYMOUTH (415): Horvath 98, Hutchings 100, LaFree 108, Rozycki 109, (McDonald 113)

WHITKO (417): Guinny Garr 100, Augusta Garr 101, Hathaway 108, Starkweather 108, (Arter 108)

BREMEN (468): Ross 106, Starke 114, Hochstetler 121, Mikel 127, (Barnes 133)

TRITON: Ritchison 115, Rensberger 124, Hubert 125

Individuals advancing from non-advancing teams: 1. Taylor Cripe (Wawasee) - 89, 2. Kristianna Lingenfelter (Rochester) - 91, 3. Karah Lingenfelter (Rochester) - 98

NOTE: Karah Lingenfelter defeated Wawasee’s Tate Cowan in a sudden death playoff. Plymouth’s Olivia Horvath was also entitled to participate in the playoff but did not compete.

Medalist: Cybil Stillson (NorthWood) - 76

The Tippecanoe Valley girls golf team finished third with a 404 at the Warsaw sectional at Stonehenge Golf Club in Winona Lake Saturday. By finishing third, they advance to their first regional in school history. Noble Hawk Golf Links in Kendallville will host the regional at 8:30 a.m. this Saturday.

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