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Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
Warsaw’s Nikki LaLonde qualified for the IHSAA state finals by shooting a 76 Saturday at the East Noble Regional at Noble Hawk Golf Links.

Individual success stories

3 area girls make cut for golf state finals

– Individuals were the storyline for the northeast Indiana contingent at the East Noble girls golf regional Saturday.

Three area players advanced to state, while no area team made it out of a tough field at Noble Hawk.

Advancing were South Adams’ Sydney Willis (4-over 74), Blackhawk Christian’s Jaycee Bunner (75) and Warsaw’s Nikki LaLonde (76).

The top five individuals not on an advancing team made it to state. Also advancing as individuals are Marion’s Kayla Adamson (72) and Oak Hill’s Lauren Tibbets (74). It is the first trip to the state finals for the three area players.

“It is great to know that it paid off, all these years, and I am so glad it all didn’t go to waste,” LaLonde said. “I don’t care how I play at state, I am there and I am super-excited about it.

“This week I was super-nervous, and I wasn’t hitting the ball that great. But I got out here, and I have played this course tons of times and know what to expect. I just went out there, and I hit the ball like I have all season, and it worked.”

The state finals will be Friday and Saturday at The Legends in Franklin.

Willis’ 74 was good enough for a tie for fourth overall.

“I definitely think things went good,” Willis said. “I was hitting my drives straight. My short game was good. I had a few bogeys here and there, but I let them go. Overall I played well.

“I can’t be disappointed with what I did today.”

Not bad for a home-schooled player who just joined the South Adams team this year.

“I got the nerves out of the way at sectional,” Willis said. “Today I just relaxed. I had a good time playing golf.”

Bunner missed out on advancing out of the regional last year with a disappointing 88.

“(Going to state) means a lot because I didn’t go the last two years, and last year, I didn’t do so hot in regionals,” Bunner said. “For the most part, (my round) was OK, but a few holes it went downhill for a little bit.”

Warsaw finished in fourth place, just three strokes away from advancing as a team.

“I would have hoped my team could have come with me,” LaLonde said. “We were so close.”

In other area team scores, East Noble (349) was sixth, Homestead (351) seventh, Carroll (352) eighth, Bishop Dwenger (358) ninth and Bellmont (362) 10th.

Penn won the team title with a 297, NorthWood was second with a 335 and Rochester third with a 338. The top three teams advanced to state. Medalist honors went to Penn’s Kari Bellville with a 71.