DARKE COUNTY – A pair of golfers who finished their high school careers with award-winning years and a freshman tennis player who had a great first varsity season are The Daily Advocate’s players of the year for their respective sports.
Versailles’ Nicholas Litten-Stonebraker has been named The Daily Advocate’s boys golfer of the year, Versailles’ Lauren Heitkamp has been named The Daily Advocate’s girls golfer of the year, and Greenville’s Natalie Milligan has been named The Daily Advocate’s girls tennis player of the year.
Litten-Stonebraker led all Darke County golfers this year with an average of 39.0 strokes per nine holes. He won medalist honors the Midwest Athletic Conference meet with an 18-hole round of 74 at Stillwater Valley Golf Club.
“Nicholas is not only an excellent golfer but a very hard worker,” Versailles boys golf coach Pete DiSalvo said. “He has developed a winning game over the last four years through hard work and attention to detail.”
Litten-Stonebraker helped lead Versailles to the championship in the MAC meet and the conference’s championship for the 2016 season. The Versailles senior also was named the MAC boys golfer of the year.
“He was our captain this year and had a hands-on job of helping the younger players improve as the season progressed,” DiSalvo said. “He is a very modest yet very determined young man.”
Heitkamp led all Darke County girls golfers with a nine-hole average of 44.2 strokes this season. The Indiana University East verbal commit was the MAC tournament medalist and was named the conference’s girls golfer of the year.
“It’s a huge thing. The MAC is known around the area to be one of the premier leagues for all sports,” Versailles girls golf coach Joe Harrmann said. “For her to win that award, I think it definitely shows the type of talent she has, the work ethic she has to overcome all those good golfers.”
Led by Heitkamp, Versailles won the MAC tournament championship and the 2016 MAC girls golf championship.
“Without her I don’t know if we have the success we had because of her leadership abilities and her talents,” Harrmann said.
Versailles went on to win the Ohio High School Athletic Association sectional tournament and then won the OHSAA district tournament for the first time in program history. The Tigers finished eighth at the state meet, tying their record for best finish in program and conference history.
“I think she accomplished everything she wanted to accomplish,” Harrmann said.
Heitkamp is a quiet leader, Harrmann said, but her work ethic inspired her teammates to follow suit
“I think she was absolutely huge, just dynamic,” Harrmann said. “Her leadership was absolutely dynamic this year.”
As just a freshman, Milligan was the No. 1 singles player for the Greenville girls tennis team. She didn’t even win half of her matches as an eighth grader, Greenville girls tennis coach Jim Koontz said, but through hard work she improved to become one of the area’s top varsity players in her first year of high school.
“She just worked at it all the time,” Koontz said. “She just dedicated herself to it after eighth grade year.”
Milligan went 12-5 at first singles for the Lady Wave, which included a 7-3 mark in Greater Western Ohio Conference action. She earned second team American division honors from the GWOC.
“As the season went along she became more confident and kind of got her stamina and built herself up,” Koontz said.
Milligan won the GWOC Silver Flight first singles championship, helping guide Greenville to the team title in the Silver Flight. In the OHSAA sectional tournament she finished just one win shy of advancing to the districts.
“She’s got a good work ethic,” Koontz said. “I think if she keeps working she’ll be a good one.”
With three more seasons of varsity tennis ahead of her, Koontz expects Milligan to have a fantastic high school career.
“We’re expecting big things out of her the next three years,” he said. “I know she’ll work at it.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.