By Alyssa Kerry
The women’s golf team has seen a large amount of success over the past few years, winning three conference championships in a row.
With such a great showing in the Heart of America Conference the goals were only becoming a higher mark to reach. After losing Two-time All-American, Demi Coertze, two-time all-conference Natalie Booton and two-time all-conference Jing Yang the Statesmen needed newcomers to add to the depth the squad already had. Recruiting freshman Brittany Evans, freshman Alexis Guimaraes, and freshman Deanna Peiffer.
In the preseason poll the Statesmen were voted 21st in the nation with 180 points. The squad is seeking their fourth conference championship and national tournament appearance in the spring of 2017. According to sophomore, Helene Larsen, “making it to nationals is a goal, and placing at nationals would be a great goal to reach” for the season.
August 29th was the first tournament of the season for the squad. The season opener Midwest Intercollegiate Open was weathered out on the second day, yet the Statesmen had a solid first day of play to earn their first crown of the season. Senior, Carly Schmalz, was on the second team for the Statesmen, leading the 41 player field with a 74. This was her first tournament since the spring of 2014 after taking a red shirt year. Sophomore Helene Larsen lead the varsity team with a 77 and tied for third overall, she was closely followed by fellow sophomore Elise Warne who carded a 78 to tie for fifth, Brittany Evans and Courtney Cunningham came in with a pair of 79’s to tie for 8th and junior Brooke Fletcher rounded out the varsity team with an 80, finishing in 10th place.
Following a top performance by Schmalz and best round of her college career, Schmalz was honored with Heart of America Athletic Conference Golfer of the Week honor. This was also the first individual title of her career
The golf team, which follows the model of being a team and family first, has grown in chemistry. Larsen said, “I think the team bond is growing constantly. Even though this is only my second year I can see people getting closer all the time, enabling us to grow closer as a team.”
The squad claimed its second crown of the season at the Pink Classic. Leading the Statesmen was Elise Warne. The squad posted a score of 302 to finish first out the three teams. This team score tied the lowest team score in school history and was also the best in terms of being over par at +10, previously +14. Warne shot an even par 73 to
claim individual honors and lead the team. Only one shot off of Warne was Cunningham with a 74, Evans carded a 77 to place third, Larsen finished with a 78 to finish in fourth and Jodi Saito shot an 80 to claim fifth.
The winning streak remained for the Statesmen as they cruised to another victory at the Buena Vista Invitational. The squad was first out of 11 teams with a two-day total of 632. Jodi Saito and Brittany Evans tied for first place in the 71 player field. In hole play Saito finished with a par to earn the individual title. Saito carded a 78-79 and Evans shot 81-76 to lead the team. All members of the varsity squad finished in the top ten. Cunningham finished in fourth with a 159 (78-81), Larsen finished in fifth with a 161 (79-82) and Warne rounded out the varsity in seventh with a 165 (85-80).
Following here title win at the Buena Vista Invitational, Jodi Saito was named the Heart of America Athletic Conference Women’s Golfer of the Week. This was a first career honor for Saito, after having two top-five finishes last week, one of which was her first individual title.
At the Dan Quayle Collegiate Classic, the Statesmen faced the toughest competition they would see during the regular season. Placing fifth out of 14 teams with a two-day total of 646. The competition was full of top teams in the NAIA and a few from NCAA Division III. Courtney Cunningham lead the squad finishing in 10th out of the 85 player field with a two-day total of 156. Following her was Helene Larsen, who tied from 15th at 160, Elise Warne tied for 32nd and the final counting score for the squad was Brittany Evans, who finished in a tie for 39th with a 166.
Helene Larsen said, “we saw how much in the mix we actually are, and also where we can get even more aggressive.”
On September 19th, Courtney Cunningham was announced to be the Heart of America Athletic Conference Women’s Golfer of the Week following her 10th place finish at the Dan Quayle Collegiate Classic. This was Cunningham’s first time receiving this honor.
In the first NAIA poll of the season on September 30th, the Statesmen moved up one spot. Moving up from 21st to 20th from the preseason poll.
At the 54-hole Bellevue Invitational Elise Warne and Jodi Saito were named to the all-tournament team. Both Warne and Saito tied for fifth at 239. The squad finished second out of seven teams with a score of 959 (32
5-320-314). Junior, Miranda Keeler was next in eighth with a 242, followed by Brittany Evans who tied for 10th at 247 and Helene Larsen was in 12th with a score of 250 out of 39 players.
Elise Warne earned her second career (first time this season) Heart of America Athletic Conference Women’s Golfer of the Week award on October 10th. Warne earned this achievement through her performance at the Bellevue Invitational making the all-tournament team.
The William Penn Classic was on October 10th, and the Statesmen easily guided to victory winning over 14 teams. The squad had a two-day score of 619. Elise Warne won her second crown of the season, by shooting a 151 (76-75), beating the nearest player in the field by 4 strokes. Miranda Keeler was four shots back of Warne to tie for 2nd place at 155. Brittany Evans was in fourth at 157, Jodi Saito and Helene Larsen tied for 9th at 161. Sophomore, Megan Rhoads, played on the varsity reserve, was named to the all tournament team shooting a 155 to tie Keeler.
Following the William Penn Classic, Elise Warne won
her third career (second this season) Heart of America Athletic Conference Women’s Golfer of the Week honor. Warne, who led the Statesmen at their home tournament placed first out of 82 players.
The Susie Maxwell Berning Classic was the final tournament of the fall season for the Statesmen. The squad tied for third out of 11 teams with a 54-hole total of 947 (335-308-304). Warne and Evans just missed being in the top ten, tying for 13th at 234. Helene Larsen finished in 29th at 246, Miranda Keeler tied for 32nd at 250.
In the second NAIA poll of the season, the Statesmen dropped down to #24 with 153 points on November 4th.
Larsen said, “we got some good, and some great results, which gives us all motivation to fire ahead once we are back in action in the Spring. Having beaten several records, and reached a lot of the goals we set, I think we are in a good position heading into the Spring season.”
Currently the squad is in their off-season in which they complete workouts to stay in shape for the spring season. Larsen said, “we are all working hard in the gym with Coach Sardine getting our bodies fit for “fight”. Using the workouts most literally as strength building, but also as a means of building mental endurance will benefit us all on the golf course.” The Statesmen will hit the course again March 27th at the TPC Deere Run invitational.