A program changer

July 31, 2018

MICHIGAN CITY — No coach wants to put too much pressure on a freshman, and Michigan City’s Drew White is trying his best to resist the urge with Taylor Skibinski.

It’s just easier said than done.

“I don’t want to overly burden her, but she shot a 77 at Beechwood (recently), which was a glimpse into what our expectations are,” White said Monday after Skibinski posted a 74 on the par-60 M.C. Municipal North Course in the La Porte County Tournament. “Taylor’s a program changer for us. I’ve seen other programs get freshmen who make an immediate impact, so it’s nice to finally get one.”

Skibinski finished second to teammate Lia Thomas (72), just ahead of Emily Gushrowski (76) as the Wolves posted a 322 to win the three-team event over South Central (398) and New Prairie (445). Defending champion La Porte was a late scratch, bowing out Monday morning, and Marquette didn’t participate either.

“You can see there we have a solid three,” White said. “They’ve all played competitive golf and this is what you get when you have kids who have played competitive rounds over the summer. It’s just a continuation.”

It wasn’t an auspicious start for Skibinski, who carded a 41 on her first nine, the back, but rebounded sharply with a three-over par 33 on the front.

“My start was a struggle, but I made up for it on the front,” Skibinski said. “It’s a shorter course, which definitely made a difference. I’m just excited to start high school golf. It helps already knowing Emily and Lia.”

In contrast to Skibinski, Thomas posted 36s on both sides.

“My round wasn’t what I wanted, but it wasn’t my worst,” Thomas said. “I thought I’d make it up on the back nine. I hit some solid shots off the tee, but my short game can definitely improve.”

Thomas is excited about the prospects for the Wolves, who improved by 41 shots over last year, despite not having No. 4 Sara Paulin, who didn’t have enough practices in yet to compete.

“I feel like everyone on the team is improving,” Thomas said. “We’ve all worked hard over the summer. Taylor coming in is going to be really good. We’re going to be neck and neck all season.”

Emma Sells shot 100 and Jayda Peters 106 for M.C.

“This was Jayda’s first competitive match, so I was really proud of her filling in fresh out of the gate,” White said.

Senior-laden South Central was led by Chloe Ryan’s 95. Julie Myers carded a 97, Morgan Hinz a 98 and Eve Masson a 108. The Satellites were minus Katelyn Rudolph due to another commitment.

“Chloe felt she left some shots out there. I think they all recognized where they lost some strokes,” S.C. coach Jim Ridley said. “Overall, I’m very happy. We did better than last year, so the improvement is there. It’s a good starting point to look forward. The work’s starting to pay off. We’re able to see it out there. I’m very optimistic about what we have a chance to do if we keep improving.”

Inexperienced New Prairie played without No. 1 Jordan Winters, who was at a basketball tournament. Zoie Martinez’s 96 paced the Cougars.

“Obviously, we’re rebuilding, with no seniors. There’s a lot of work to do, but it’s a fun team to work with,” New Prairie coach Bruce Watson said. “We’ve had very few practices. We’re about where I thought we’d be right now. We know what we have to work on.”

La Porte County Tournament

Michigan City’s Lia Thomas was medalist.

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