North uses big improvement to win East invitational; Olympians take fourth

After posting its highest score in several years a week ago in the State Preview, the Columbus North girls golfers were anxious to prove they were a better team that what they had shown.

So on Saturday at Otter Creek, the Bull Dogs made a 65-shot improvement over the previous weekend. Led by Ava Bunker’s medalist round of 5-under-par 67, they fired a 331 team total to win the 11-team Columbus East Invitational.

“I’m extremely happy with the way we played today,” North coach Scott Seavers said. “We had some personal-bests and made big improvements from last week. This is a tough course, so we’re just happy that we’re improving.”

Bunker tied the Bull Dogs 18-hole school record set by current Xavier golfer Nathaly Munnicha in the 2019 Conference Indiana Tournament at Timbergate.

“It started off good with a birdie, but then I bogeyed the next hole, and I then just couldn’t make any putts,” Bunker said. “But on the back nine, I started sinking them. I was hitting fairways and getting it down there where I just had about 70 yards and in pretty much the whole time, which helped me out a lot.”

Erin Hopkins carded a personal-best round of 86 for North to tie for fourth individually. Ritisha Rashmil added an 88, Lindsey Hartwell shot 90 and Nettie Meeks had a 112. Kara Buntin, playing as an individual, recorded a 117.

“I’m really happy for Ava shooting a 67,” Seavers said. “She has a great future ahead of her, and I’m happy with the other girls, as well. They just need a little bit of confidence like this to build on and just try to get better every week.”

Bedford North Lawrence finished second with a 347, and Jasper took third at 364. The host Olympians were fourth with a 369.

Lilly Steinwedel tied for fourth individually in leading East with an 86. Katie Hong carded an 88, Carter Gant carded a 90, Ali Trueblood shot 105 and Grace LaSell had a 106. Playing as individuals, Dyana Foster shot 107, and Avery Brooks had a 112.

“We were hoping to be a little bit lower than that today, but overall, it’s pretty good,” East coach Kylie Weichman said. “I’m very pleased with how our team showed up today and how they played. Grace LaSell was 18 strokes better than she was last year. Ali Trueblood 26 strokes better than she was last year. Those are huge improvements for us, and I think we’re just going to continue to get better.”

Brown County and Edinburgh both shot 454, with the Eagles finishing 10th and the Lancers 11th on the fifth-score tiebreaker.

Lilly VanNess led Brown County with a 104. Hannah deWeerdt carded a 110, Ava Stogsdill added a 116, Savannah Poling shot 124 and Chole Poling had a 129.

“This is an experienced of a team as we’ve probably ever had,” Brown County coach Brad Baughman said. “But we’re making headway. It’s just a tougher course for us. We’re not used to all this sand. This is a great experience for us. We see a lot of good things going on for us. Our thing is always to get better, and by early September, we’ll be better, and playing in tournaments like this will make us better.”

Edinburgh was led by a 102 from Macie Blandford. Izzy Richardson carded a 107, Jillian Turner added a 121, Gracie Myers shot 124 and Cloee Britton had a 136.

“We struggled a little bit today,” Edinburgh coach Doug Weddle said. “Our No. 1 and No. 2 would normally be in the 80s or 90s, but that’s just the way it goes. For our first 18-hole tournament this year, I’m pretty pleased.”

Trinity Lutheran’s lone golfer, Allie Schocke, finished with a 134.