Richner sisters contribute to NorthWood girls golf success

Three sisters – Linnzie, Baillie and Madison Richner – each landed spots on the NorthWood High School girls golf team. Now, the sister act is working to help its team excel this season.

Posted on Aug. 16, 2014 at 9:10 a.m. | Updated on Aug. 16, 2014 at 4:53 p.m.

On one hand, they are three of a kind. On the other, they are distinct.

What the Richner sisters share besides a family connection is the drive to excel for themselves and the NorthWood High School girls golf program.

What separates them is the way they go about it.

In a five-player varsity lineup, there's junior Linnzie Richner at No. 1, junior Baillie Richner at No. 4 and freshman Madison Richner at No. 5.

The Adam Yoder-coached Panthers also feature sophomore Summer Stillson and senior Rachel Beebe at Nos. 2 and 3.

NorthWood is receiving votes in the statewide polls and counts a one-stroke win against Penn at the Plymouth Invitational among its early 2014 season successes, thanks in large part to salesman Chad Richner and nurse Lori Richner's three oldest of four daughters (Abigail Richner is a golf-playing sixth grader).

"They all kind of have different personalities," Yoder said of Linnzie, Baillie and Madison. "They all have their own way of looking at the game and living life."

Yoder said Linnzie is his most intense competitor, while Baillie is the most in-tune with team goals and Madison has been a quick study and swiftly adapted to the demands of varsity golf.

Linnzie gained much from her sophomore season while playing in a lineup led by then-senior Heidi Morganthaler that made NorthWood's first State Finals appearance in 2013. Her twin sister, Baillie, also shared the No. 5 spot with Kayla Stankovich.

This fall, the Richner twins have raised their game, and Madison has continued to be very competitive with Baillie.

Yoder commends Linnzie for her laser-like focus and her willingness to stand up to top-flight opponents.

"She's very determined to reach whatever goal she's set for herself," Yoder said of Linnzie. "She played with so many good players last year on our run to state. (They) are not going to intimidate her."

Resilient is another word to describe Linnzie.

"You can always scramble," Linnzie said. "You can have a bad drive and still make par. Even if you play bogey golf, that doesn't hurt anything."

While golf is an individual sport, NorthWood embraces the team concept. Four of five scores count in dual and tournament play.

"I just don't want to let the team down," Linnzie said. "If I have a bad hole, I'll tell myself that I need to get this together, not just for myself but of the team that needs me."

NorthWood's other 16-year-old Richner sister expressed the same sentiment.

"I constantly have to think to myself, even though I'm having a bad day, I have to try to improve it because I have a team that may need my score," Baillie said. "I have to push myself to do better just in case they need me."

Baillie describes herself as more laid-back than her twin.

"When I'm playing, I try to have fun, because you can't take golf too seriously," said Baillie, who splits her time between golf and cheerleading and has aspirations of a career in optometry. "Otherwise, you'll hit a bad shot, and you're just wrecked for the rest of the day."

Baillie also knows how to read Linnzie.

"We don't have twin telepathy," Baillie said. "I don't know what she's thinking. If she's thinking about tacos, I wouldn't be thinking about tacos too. But I know her well enough. I know I should not go up and go, 'Try harder. It's a good game.' That's the last thing she wants to hear."

Madison has been a pleasant surprise.

"I didn't know that Madison was going to be this good," Yoder said. "I'd seen her scores in junior high, but it's kind of hard to judge.

"She's very, very savvy when it comes to golf. She understands the game as good as anybody we have on the team. Taking that understanding and putting it into execution is a tough thing and she's learning how to do that on the run right now."

Even at 14, Madison and Linnzie share a goal of a college golf career (Linnzie wants to study nursing and became fascinated by anatomy while field-dressing deer with her father). She has soaked up knowledge by observing her older sister.

"Linnzie is good at recovering from bad shots," Madison said. "She's good at staying focused and playing smart. That's a really good trait to have in high school.

"Baillie makes me better. It's good to have a sister that tests your skills and stuff."

Madison embraces her role on the team.

"I could have a careless attitude and say I'm No. 5, and my score doesn't count," Madison said. "But they turn to No. 5's for tiebreakers and stuff so it's a big deal. I definitely don't want to let my sisters down or the rest of the girls on the team."

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