October 3, 2013

Pioneer's DeWitt enjoys breakthrough round at sectional

By Beau Wicker Pharos-Tribune

---- — Pioneer senior Mati DeWitt has shown throughout her career that she’s a talented golfer.

She proved it at this year’s Twin Lakes Sectional, firing an 83 at Tippecanoe Country Club which placed her third among all individuals.

“I played well and kept my mental game going. The team had a big part in it, too,” DeWitt said. “We played as a team and it worked out in the end.”

Indeed, the Panthers placed third as a team with a 375 and advanced to the regional round for the first time since 2002.

At the Lafayette Jeff Regional at Battle Ground Golf Club, DeWitt again led the Panthers with a 94. She said she was certainly hoping for a lower score.

“I wasn’t feeling very well. My mental game got me there. I had a few rough holes that you have to let go of and I couldn’t get past that,” she said. “That was a big factor.”

DeWitt was the Midwest Conference medalist as a junior but finished second at this year’s event with a 99 held at Pond View Golf Course to Caston’s Tierney Rentschler (92).

DeWitt is also a talented basketball player. Standing in at 5-foot-10, she plays forward for the Panthers.

She scored a career-high 16 points in a 33-25 win over a 13-win Caston squad a year ago.

The Panthers hope to improve on their 5-16 record of last season.

“I think we’ll do pretty well. We’ve got some good girls coming up and some seniors,” DeWitt said. “The mental game is a big part, and playing as a team is a big part. We hope to do well this season.”

DeWitt mentioned classmates Kayte Miller, Megan Smith and Brooklyn Mehrley as key players for this season.

“We’ve all been playing since freshman year and have a team bond this year. Hopefully we’ll have a successful season,” she said.

Pioneer girls golf coach Dale Samuels, who is also an assistant for the girls basketball team, said that in the biggest games and biggest moments is when DeWitt performs her best.

The following is a question-and-answer session with DeWitt.

Q. Of the sports you play, which is your favorite? Why?

A. I have a passion for all the sports I play. They each give me different challenges and give me something new to work on. I have learned multiple lessons from each sport, not just the love for the game but also life lessons.

Q. How did you first get started in sports? At what age?

A. My family has always been big into sports. They started me off at the age of 4 or 5 with the little basketball hoops and plastic golf clubs.

Q. Do you have any family members who played sports?

A. My father [Mathew] played football for Twin Lakes throughout junior high and high school.

Q. Have you ever played a sport that you were not successful at?

A. I played volleyball when I was younger but did not enjoy it.

Q. How do you feel you’ve improved as an athlete since you first started playing?

A. I have learned that you have to have a short memory and move on in certain situations. I do not get down on myself as I did when I was younger. And with the loyal support from my family, friends and coaches, they have pushed me too never give up.

Q. Who do you consider your biggest role model? Why?

A. My father is my role model. He has made me the person I am today. He pushes me to practice more, encourages me when I am not playing my best and he does not let me give up on myself. Those late night fifth quarters and golf sessions have had a tremendous impact on my mental game.

Q. What experiences have you had in sports have made you the athlete you are today?

A. Going up against better athletes than me. It shows how much hard work and time they put into that sport. That then makes me want to better myself as an athlete.

Q. What is something that not everyone knows about you?

A. I am terrified of clowns.

Q. What is your favorite memory of playing sports at your school?

A. Coming from a small school I have become very close with my teammates. We all have this bond with each other. When one of us is down we can always bring that teammate up.

Q. What’s your favorite music, movie, TV show, etc.?

A. Music: Anything that gets me pumped for a game or match. Movie: Happy Gilmore. TV show: Criminal Minds. Book: 90 minutes in Heaven. Sports team: Purdue.

Q. Who is the best athlete in your respective sport you’ve ever gone up against?

A. Amy Worthington. She is a very solid golfer and knows what she is doing. From playing with her throughout the years I have learned a lot.

Q. What are your goals for your future? Do you plan on attending college?

A. I plan to attend college, I am not sure where though. I want to major in health and wellness.

Each week during the school year the Pharos-Tribune recognizes an athlete from one of five area high schools. The recipients are selected by each school’s athletic department.