KENDALLVILLE — Less than a week into the girls golf season, DeKalb and East Noble were already at different points in their campaigns heading into Saturday’s East Noble Invitational at Noble Hawk.
The host Knights had already competed in three meets this season, while the Barons — due to starting school this past Monday – were participating in their first contest of the fall.
But the late start didn’t deter the Barons at all. Despite a new head coach in Trent Stuckey and three new varsity players, DeKalb brought home the first-place trophy with a 353 to defeat 10 other teams. East Noble was second with a 356, three shots back.
“That’s the way to start,” Stuckey said. “It’s time to retire, right?
“I’m thrilled for the girls. They’ve spent a lot of time practicing, had very little time on the golf course but a lot of time on the range and putting green. It worked for them today and they’re seeing the benefits of the practice.”
Even with three new varsity players, it was the veterans — senior Kelsey Helmkamp and junior Katie Skidmore — that helped lead the way to victory. But it wasn’t without a bit of difficulty.
Helmkamp broke her driver on the practice range before the meet, having to borrow an extra one. But it didn’t stop Helmkamp from leading the Barons with an 82, a round which included a birdie on the first hole and eight pars.
“(The new driver) actually worked out pretty well for me,” Helmkamp said. “My drives were straight and far, so that always helps. A lot of my second shots landed on the green and I had a lot of one-putts, too.”
Helmkamp shot a 39 on the front nine.
“We haven’t had a lot of practice for this, and all of us could have shot better, too,” Helmkamp said. “It’s great winning and knowing we can still improve.”
Skidmore had the best individual hole on the day, making an eagle on the par-4 No. 7.
The two new freshmen on the team, Lexy Stuckey and Bayley Stuckey shot an 87 and 98, respectively, in their first varsity matches. Senior Maddy Fifer, in her first year playing the sport after coming over from volleyball, carded a 100.
“When you can look up and down the scoreboard and see three scores from the mid-80s and lower … that’s hopefully going to give us some good consistency this year,” Trent Stuckey said.
East Noble coach Richard Bentz said the Knights left a lot of shots out on the course.
“We’re gradually working ourselves down a little bit,” Bentz said. “We’ve just got to keep working on the short game; the short game’s the trouble and causes us the most grief.”
The Knights’ No. 1 golfer, senior Alyn Clark, had another strong outing, finishing second individually with a 5-over 75, two strokes back of medalist Casey Bunner of Blackhawk Christian (73).
“I think that’s probably her best out here,” Bentz said. “Seventy-five is good, we’ll take that any time.”
Cooper Handshoe was the only other EN golfer under 95, carding an 87. Becca Alwine shot a 96, Mariah Hernandez 98 and Sara Kilburn 104.
“We need (Handshoe) to be down around 82 to be competitive with some of the good teams,” Bentz said. “The other three are the unknowns. We just got to work those back down. We have four golfers battling for those last three spots, and on any given day I’ve got to guess which three are going to be lowest. It’s going to be tough sometimes.”
Bishop Dwenger (364) placed third, followed by Northwood (366) and Warsaw (391).
Behind Casey Bunner and Clark were Northwood’s Linnzie Richner (76), Blackhawk’s Jaycee Bunner (76) and Dwenger’s Katie Giant (78).
Trent Stuckey is a first-year coach at DeKalb, but has a golf background. He played at DeKalb, graduating in 1990, and played for four years at Butler University.
“They’ve worked hard throughout the summer,” he said. “They were at a little bit of a disadvantage being in class all week, and we only had one official practice before school started. I’m real excited about what the future weeks look like.”
East Noble Invitational
Team scores: DeKalb 353, East Noble 356, Bishop Dwenger 364, Northwood 366, Warsaw 391, Concord 399, Huntington North 401, Goshen 438, Bishop Luers 450.
DeKalb: Katie Skidmore 86, Kelsey Helmkamp 82, Lexy Stuckey 87, Bayley Stuckey 98, Maddy Fifer 100.
Article from The Star Newspaper.
Written by Phil Friend