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Squires' end opening week with Manchester Invite

Manchester's Alissa Bickerstaff chips a ball onto the green during Thursday's Manchester Invitational at Sycamore Golf Course.

BY JACOB RUDE - sports@wabashplaindealer.com

NORTH MANCHESTER - As has become an annual tradition for the Manchester girls’ golf team, the opening week of the fall season is a test for the Squires. Thursday marked the end of week where Manchester took part in three competitions totaling 45 holes wrapping up with their own invitational at Sycamore Golf Course.

Wabash took the team title on the night as one of only two teams of the four competing to field a full team. The Apaches’ score of 196 was 54 shots better than Westview’s score of 250. Manchester and Marion also had competitors on the evening as well.

For Manchester head coach Josh Troyer, Thursday was the capper on a busy but productive week of golf.

“It was a good week,” he said. “We knocked the rust off a little bit. A couple of our girls didn’t play as much in the summer which is fine. They’re busy with other stuff. It’s good to see where they’re at and see them consistently improve.”

Individually, Manchester’s Samantha Kissell earned medalist honors with a round of 40 on the evening, edging out Wabash’s Bella Carrillo’s round of 42.

“Sam played a lot (this summer) but she’s kind of taken steps each day,” Troyer said. “I kept saying all week, they’d ask how she did, and I’d say ‘She shot an 89 again’ but it just felt like she played better. It felt like she was hitting the ball better, she was swinging better, she was making good decisions. It was just that the score was reflective of how she was playing. I feel like she’s playing really well. If we can keep that going and make some minor improvements, I’m excited about that and excited to have a team score next week.”

Alissa Bickerstaff finished seventh on the day with a 56 while Delani Henderson fired a 67 as the only other competitors of the day for the Squires. Bickerstaff and Kissell are the only two returnees for Manchester this fall.

“We’re really trying to get Alissa lowering that score,” Troyer said. “She’s another one that seems to be hitting the ball better but still not scoring where I think she’s capable of. She’s making steps in the right direction.”

The Apaches saw Lindsey Mattern card a 50 while Halle Miller and Annie Cole each fired rounds of 52. Aubrey Till had a non-scoring round of 68.

For Manchester, the opening week also represented a drastic change in expectations for the Squires from previous years. Last fall, Manchester was keying up for a run at a three-peat of conference titles and a shot at a regional berth.

This season, the Squires have drastically different expectations with the team yet to post a team score this season.

“Less pressure,” Troyer said of the differences between this season and last. “It’s been more enjoyable in a way. It’s kind of enjoyable when you have good teams but in the same instance, it’s kind of hard to enjoy it because you go in with so much pressure and expectations. It’s not that we’ve lowered the expectations (this year), it’s just that they’ve just adjusted. We’re working on individual stuff trying to see those improvements. It feels like it’s back to the first year or two when I coached, we kind of have that similar team makeup. Getting everyone involved in the next week or so and just kind of excited to see where that goes.”

For Troyer, the focus on this season first involves posting a team score as the team will have a full team starting on Monday. From there, the focus is simply on improvement.

“The main thing is just to post a team score just to see where we’re at,” Troyer said. “I think more than anything, we just have to keep getting experience. Three out of our five have no varsity experience...so kind of just getting them acclimated and getting them more comfortable. It’ll be interesting to see where we’re at in a couple of weeks.”