Strength in numbers
La PORTE — All 18 holes count the same in a round of golf, but it’s always the last few, good or bad, that stick with a player the most.
They sure did for Taylor Skibinski in Tuesday’s New Prairie Invitational, where the Michigan City freshman carded a team-best 81 at Legacy Hills, only to leave a tad soured by a pair of double bogeys on her last two holes.
“I was even on my front nine until then,” Skibinski said amid the rain that hit just after the completion of play. “I’ve played the back nine many times, but it was my first time playing the front, so I’m pretty happy with how I shot. I could’ve done better, but there’s always time, other rounds.”
Teeing off on No. 5 in the shotgun start, Skibinski birdied her opening hole on her way to putting up sides of 41 and 40. She finished nine strokes off the medalist score of 72 by Valparaiso’s Grace Cusson and NorthWood’s Cybil Stillson. Cusson won via a scorecard tie-breaker.
“I hit the ball good, I putted a lot better,” Skibinski said. “I had some good saves for par from putting.”
Lia Thomas was three back of Skibinski at 84, followed by Sara Poulin (99) and Emma Sells (110).
“Taylor’s just so solid,” M.C. coach Drew White said. “She gets into trouble, but knows how to get out of it, which is the sign of a good golfer. Lia responds well to competition. She sees a girl hit a big drive and she’s like, OK, let me show you this. She has that gamer mentality.”
Emily Gushrowski played one hole before withdrawing due to illness and while the void on the scorecard made about a 10-stroke difference, White lauded the efforts of Poulin and Sells in picking up the slack, who shaved nine shots off of Friday’s round at Beechwood.
“Obviously, when they know they only have four (scores), that puts a little more pressure on the other kids,” White said. “Emily and Sara really stepped up and answered the call. We know we’re always going to need one of them to give us a good score and they’re moving in the right direction.”
City finished fifth of 16 teams with a 374. Valpo won the title, putting up a 312, 20 shots better than runner-up NorthWood. The Wolves were ninth in the same tournament last summer, scoring 427.
South Central finished 11th at 425, which is a school record for a standard par-72 course. Chloe Ryan’s 99 marked her first time under the century mark in a tournament on a regular-length layout.
“Our target to get out of sectionals is 400, so we’re getting closer to that mark,” Satellites assistant coach Mike Ryan said. “Everybody played well. We had a lot of 18-hole bests. Eve (Masson) had her first birdie. At Beechwood, Chloe was 104, 105 and everybody else was around 120. They were all close to 110 (here), so that’s a big improvement.”
New Prairie posted a 471, good for 13th, and La Porte shot 576. Jordan Winters registered a 96 for the Cougars.
“All three who were returning (Winters, Zoie Martinez and Beth Armstrong) shot better than last year,” New Prairie coach Bruce Watson said. “The two freshmen had never played the back here before. They’ve improved every meet. They’re working hard. They know it’s a process.”
Gabby Hull paced the Slicers with 122.
New Prairie Invitational
AT LEGACY HILLS (Par 72)
1. VALPARAISO 312, 5. MICHIGAN CITY 374, 11. SOUTH CENTRAL 425, 13. NEW PRAIRIE 471, 16. La PORTE 576.
Medalist — Grace Cusson (V) 72.
MICHIGAN CITY — Taylor Skibinski 81, Lia Thomas 84, Sara Poulin 99, Emma Sells 110.
SOUTH CENTRAL — Chloe Ryan 99, Morgan Hinz 104, Julie Myers 110, Eve Masson 112.
NEW PRAIRIE — Jordan Winters 96, Zoie Martinez 115, Beth Armstrong 123, Cyd Palmer 127, Liv Trojanowski 136.
La PORTE — Gabby Hull 122, Ella Schable 139, Brooklyn Herod 147, Emily Tharpe 165, Majorie Romhilt 171.
New Prairie Invitational
Michigan City finished fifth with a 374.