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The Journal Gazette

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Senior Taylor Schleinkofer and the rest of her Leo teammates have been focused on improving their play leading into sectionals.

Friday, August 31, 2018 1:00 am

Lions focused on selves

Personal bests have been goal of Leo this season

ELIZABETH WYMAN | The Journal Gazette

Before the Homestead Invitational on July 30 – the first match of the 2018 season – Leo senior golfer Taylor Schleinkofer went to her coach, Paul Newberg, for some words of encouragement.

“Don't suck,” Newberg said half-joking, half-serious.

Schleinkofer shot her personal best, hitting 50 on the front nine for the first time, and shooting a 100 on the day.

Newberg said the same thing to junior Isabelle Baldwin before the match.

“That was my day I hit my personal best, too, so maybe 'don't suck' is the motto,” Baldwin said.

The team motto stuck for Leo (7-3, 4-0). After missing out on the state tournament the past two seasons and failing to make it out of the Angola Sectional last season, the Lions are ready to move forward.

“It's going good. We've had some very positive things happen,” Newberg said. “Still, (we're in) that assessment process of trying to figure out what you need to do, and where we can shave strokes, so that when we come to conference tournament and sectionals, we can be ready to go.”

The Lions returned four of their top five golfers from last season, led by junior Anna Munson at the No.1 spot.

“As they've gotten older, they've got more consistent,” Newberg said of his returnees. “We still have our moments of poor play, but the consistency is getting better.”

Improvement is all Newberg cares about and the Lions are listening. At the Concordia Invitational on Aug. 11, all five varsity players – Munson, Baldwin, Quinn Stanchin, Sydney Holub and Miranda Freeman – set or tied their personal bests for nine and 18 holes.

“Everybody had a fabulous day and it was really fun, because the nice thing about golf is you can go out and have a career day and we weren't close to winning it,” Newberg said. “Girls played really well, we got a little confidence and you can truly judge yourself based on how you play, and it doesn't matter what anybody else does.”

The Lions placed fifth out of 14 teams all while starting two freshmen. Newberg said the three freshmen on his roster – Holub, Freeman and Aubrey Parmerlee – have stood out this season.

“To put a freshman out there on varsity in their situation and compete, and be a little bit better than I thought they were (has been impressive). Even last spring when they were playing on our junior high team,” Newberg said.

Holub wasted no time making her presence known, playing at the five spot in the first tournament of the season.

“I feel very lucky that I get to play with all these older girls and learn from them,” Holub said. “I've gotten used to the pressure more so than the beginning. It's a game I've played since like 8 or 9, so as long as I play my game, I'm fine.”

Munson, who made it to regionals as an individual last season, has been a medalist more than three times this season.

After struggling with a lingering back issue last year, she's worked with a trainer and gotten stronger and can now hit the ball 50 yards farther.

Still, there's work to do.

“I need to get mentally stronger,” Munson said. “I'm extremely hard on myself. If I hit a shot not where I want it to go, in my mind I'm like, 'Oh, that's horrible.'”

As the sectional approaches Sept. 14, Newberg wants his Lions to keep improving their personal scores and not worry about other teams.

“If all five of my girls show up and shoot their best score of the year, and we don't get out (of sectional), I can't be disappointed in that they played great; somebody just played better,” Newberg said. “That's kind of what we preach; to just go out and take care of our business.”

ewyman@jg.net