Sophomore Zach Leedy of Wawasee watches his ball roll to the hole on the 18th green. Photo by Gary Nieter, Times-Union
Sophomore Zach Leedy of Wawasee watches his ball roll to the hole on the 18th green. Photo by Gary Nieter, Times-Union
Their goal was to win the Northern Lakes Conference championship, and the Warsaw Tigers came within a few strokes of doing just that.

With Warsaw and NorthWood tied atop the NLC?standings at 6-1 after the round robin season, Saturday’s 18-hole conference tournament at Rozella Ford Golf Club became a winner-take-all situation between the two teams.

The winner turned out to be the NorthWood Panthers, whose only conference blemish in the regular season was a 5-stroke loss to Warsaw.

The Panthers shot 320 Saturday, beating the Tigers by a mere two strokes to capture an outright championship.

Concord and Plymouth shot 326, followed by Northridge (363), Wawasee (370), Goshen (375) and Elkhart Memorial (406).

Added to the disappointment of losing by just two strokes Saturday is the fact the Tigers’ only NLC setback was a 1-stroke loss to Wawasee Thursday.

Wawasee finished at 4-3 in the NLC standings and was 48 strokes behind the Tigers Saturday.

“The difference in Wawasee, if we had won Thursday then today’s results as is we would have tied for the conference championship,” said Haddad, whose team had won its previous three 18-hole tournaments.

“We talked about that. If we go out and win today, we win the conference, instead of us backing into the conference, which is what would have happened. It required us to win today. We didn’t feel intimidated by that, we just knew that we couldn’t not play a good round today and expect to back into it.

“I have no problem with that. It would have been nice to have that cushion, but to have a tournament like today and best team wins, that’s OK.”

Caleb Lung, who won a playoff with Plymouth’s Chapman Yoder for medalist honors, led NorthWood with a 76.

The Panthers got the boost they needed from Jacob Falk, their No. 4 player who shot a 79 and tied for third place individually.

Sean Hogan and Randy Kauffman shot 80 and 85, respectively, for the winners.

Luke Delp led the Tigers with a 79, while Sam Yeager (80), Chase Byron (81) and Jacob LaLonde (82) all finished in a pattern of one stroke behind their teammate.

Tommy Meier rounded out Warsaw’s lineup with an 84.

“I look at today, and I would say all the guys were disappointed in their performance, I would say from top to bottom,” said Haddad. “None of them played an awful round. I would say they played OK. They all played an OK round, and they all felt they should play better. And when it’s only two strokes that’s the difference in winning it and not, they’re all gonna say ‘my two strokes could have been found.’

“All five guys, I’m sure, will think about where they could have helped make up those two strokes. It’s very disappointing, but there wasn’t any one player, it was all five of them that kind of played mediocre, quite frankly.”

The Wawasee Warriors, who shot their best round of the year in Thursday’s 1-stroke win over Warsaw, were led Saturday by Zach Leedy’s 87.

Evan Dippon carded an 89, followed in Wawasee’s lineup by Dillon Drake (91), Jared Krugman (103) and Victor Tayagua (103).

“We didn’t play very well,” said Wawasee coach Steve Coverstone. “I’d say most of our guys didn’t play as well as they’d hoped. There’s not much else to say, we just didn’t play very well.”

Warsaw and Wawasee will play an 18-hole tournament today, as the Tigers host the Bob Turner Classic at Tippecanoe Lake Country Club.

Haddad sees today’s tournament as another tuneup for the upcoming postseason, which begins June 1 with the sectional at Rozella Ford.

“I think it’s going to be a gut check for us because our first goal as the season plays out was to win the conference title,” said Haddad. “We all felt we were talented enough and could do it.

“It’s a gut check for us to kind of inch our pants up and get back at it. On Monday we have a really fun invite at Tippecanoe Lake Country Club. The guys love to play up there. We’re looking at two high-quality potential regional teams in Penn and Bishop Dwenger. I love the fact that we’re going to go toe to toe with them and see what we’re made of. That’s they challenge we’ll have. They could be our regional competition, so let’s see what they’ve got, and let’s see what we’ve got.”



NLC TOURNAMENT

Rozella Ford, par 70

Team Scores – NorthWood 320, Warsaw 322, Concord 326, Plymouth 326, Northridge 363, Wawasee 370, Goshen 375, Elkhart Memorial 406

Medalist – Caleb Lung (NW) 76 (won playoff with Plymouth’s Chapman Yoder)

Warsaw – Luke Delp 79, Sam Yeager 80, Chase Byron 81, Jacob LaLonde 82, Tommy Meier 84

Wawasee – Zach Leedy 87, Evan Dippon 89, Dillon Drake 91, Jared Krugman 103, Victor Tayagua 103