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MC's Skibinski takes third at NP Invite

La PORTE -- Having a top-flight teammate can be a little frustrating if a golfer is concerned about getting their share of the spotlight, but for Taylor Skibinski, there's no down side to being second in the Michigan City lineup to Lia Thomas.

"It's definitely a good thing to have someone above me," Skibinski said. "If they shoot better than me, it gives me more motivation to try to be like her."

After backing Thomas with top-four finishes in three tournaments that the Wolves senior won last week, Skibinski topped M.C. in Tuesday's New Prairie Invitational at Legacy Hills with a 79, good for third place. Thomas was fourth with an 82.

"A second-place finish and two fourth-place finishes last week -- that's impressive in and of itself -- and that kind of got overshadowed by Lia winning all three events, so it's good to see Taylor come out and do what she's capable of doing," City coach Drew White said. "On any given day, either one of those two can lead any given field. When you have golfers who are this good, I don't envy them. Even if you have a decent round, you aren't willing to give yourself credit. Both sit here and think they could have played better. They need to recognize they've done real well. A 79 and 82 are pretty good."

Skibinski registered a pair of birdies in a round that still left her wrinkling her nose.

"There were a lot of stupid decisions that I made out there, club choices that I was thinking were good, but I'd hit it into a tree," she said. "I was strong off the tee. I was really good at putting myself in good position. My chipping was a lot better and my shorter putting was a lot better than it was from Crown Point."

Taylor Skibinski

Thomas' day started in rocky fashion as she ceded five shots to par in the first four holes. She steadied herself to play five-over the rest of the way.

"Lia got off to a really, really rough start, but she obviously was able to rectify the situation and I'm proud of her for doing that," White said. "I don't know how to quantify how impressive it is for one golfer to win three tournaments in three days. Every now and then, the golf gods give you a round to prove that your mortal and I think that was today for Lia. There's no rhyme or reason to it."

Cybil Stillson's even-par 72 paced NorthWood (337) to the team title, 10 shots better than Penn. Mishawaka Marian (354) was third, followed by La Porte (380) and New Prairie (382).

"The girls played really well (shooting 359 Monday) at Sandy Pines and had high expectations for today," LP coach Libbie Gilliland said. "We didn't quite meet them, but I'm OK with our score. You're going to have a bad hole here and there. A 380 is fantastic for us in the third match of the season. They're harder on themselves than I am, which is OK. It makes them work harder, want it a little more. We're just going to get better from here."

Freshman Molly Menne led the Slicers were an 89, followed by Jayme Noll (94), Kamryn Kubik (96) and Rosie Korell (101).

New Prairie's total is the second-best 18-hole mark in the program's 49-year history.

"We didn't shoot what we're capable of shooting, but for this time of year, we're fine. we'll get there down at the right time," Cougars coach Bruce Watson said.

Jordan and Jaiden Winters carded 90 and 92, respectively, for NP.

"My back nine, I actually played really well," Jordan said of her finishing 41. "My front nine holes were not that great. I could've been low to mid 80s. Compared to last week, I know I need to clear my head and not worry about what I did on the last nine, just keep going and play better."

Jaiden went 45-47 on what she called a pretty consistent round.

"Definitely not warming up on the range, the first two holes were rough. I couldn't really get off the tee," she said. "My putting struggled at the beginning. It got better, but again, I was missing my par putts and I'd bogey the hole. With all my shots, I thought I would've scored better than what I thought I scored."

Freshman Jenna Bauman shot a 95 with classmate Jayden Flagg leading the JV entry with a 103.

"Bauman's a keeper. She's gonna be a good one," Watson said. "She's already been playing probably five years. She takes lessons at Briar Leaf with Jay Williams. (Flagg) came out a couple weeks ago, so we can have two freshmen and a sophomore playing varsity. We should be good for quite a while if we keep working."

Michigan City placed ninth at 424, still down varsity regulars Caroline Kearney and Jayda Peters.

"It was important to me to post a team score," White said. "Krystani (Quinn) went out and did a decent job. At the same time, it's not indicative of the type of team we have."

Marquette finished 12th of 12 teams at 506 in its first outing with at least four players. Mary Kate Bobillo led the Blazers with a 104.

"It gives us something to measure against, to see if we can improve on the numbers," coach Bill Luegers said. "We're getting a little more experience, which is nice. Two of them are freshmen and the other is a senior (Abby Ryan) who is a pretty good athlete, but has never played golf before. This was her first day of eligibility. They're moving along. They all have good attitudes. They've made marginal improvements, a couple shots here and there, and they're happy about it."

Luegers is looking forward to a brief respite from matches to get in some work.

"We've been playing so much, with all these tournaments, we really haven't had a chance to practice," he said. "We haven't had a short game practice, which is what we're doing (Wednesday) and probably Friday. I think there will be some significant improvement after a couple hours of short game practice. A lot of shots get wasted around the green. It's the easiest place to pick up strokes, for everybody. I'm going to practice, too, because we all need it."

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