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Freshman leads women’s golf with impressive final round in first spring event

Freshman Veronika Kedronova entered the spring season on a high note, placing sixth individually out of 96 participants at the UCF Challenge event that ended Feb. 5.

This is Kedronova’s second top-10 finish this season, with the other coming in the team’s first event of the fall season Sept. 12. She finished tied for first with a nine-under-par performance against 92 other opponents.

“She hits it really long, and she’s really smart on the course and a great putter, and so she thinks her way around,” coach Casey VanDamme said. “She’s improved since she’s been here, her accuracy off the tee and her ball striking.”

The team, however, placed in the bottom half of the results, finishing tied for 10th in an event featuring 18 teams.

The event started a day early due to weather uncertainty.

“The ladies handled that well, and they did everything in their control,” VanDamme said. “There was just some rust that was displayed, but for the most part, they did a good job handling what they could control.”

The event comes off an almost four-month break, as the team’s last event was Oct. 15-17, which was also a 10th place finish.

“They all go home for the month of December and half of January, so we see them when they get back to school,” VanDamme said. They all have different situations and abilities to practice, and some of them don’t have perfect ways to practice, so we tried to get some great training in when they’re at our practice facility.”

Round 1

After the first round of play, KSU sat right where the team would end: in tenth place.

Senior Hester Sicking was the Flashes’ best golfer in the round after shooting a three-under-par 69.

The team shot a three-over-par 291 in the round, as every other golfer shot a par-72 or over, including two five-over 77s.

Round 2

Kent State would have the same three-over 291 score as the first round but would drop a spot in the rankings, as Michigan State would overtake the team for the tenth spot.

Sicking followed up her first round with a one-over-par 73 in the second round.

She sat at a two-under-par through two rounds of play.

Kedronova found herself one-under-par in the second round after shooting a 71, putting her behind Sicking in the rankings.

After her par in the first round, Kedronova was at one-under-par overall.

Sophomore Leon Takagi bounced back after her one-over-par first round with a one-under-par second round to break even.

Junior Jennifer Gu and sophomore Vera Yi continued to slide in the second round, as they shot a four-over-par 76 and a nine-over-par 81, respectively.

After two rounds, Gu sat nine strokes over par, and Yi was 14 strokes over par.

Round 3

Kedronova caught fire at the end of the event, as she shot a five-under-par 67 in the third round.

The score gave her a six-under-par 210 overall performance and a sixth-place spot in the individual rankings.

She used five birdies and an eagle in the last round en route to her end score.

Sicking was not far behind, finishing the event tied for 12th with a four-under-par 212 final score after her two-under-par 72 final round.

Sicking and Kedronova both had two rounds where they shot under par.

“Both of them did a good job, but both of them left a lot of shots out there too,” VanDamme said. “They may have some improvements they could do, but they handled any adversity they had better than they have in the past and most players I’ve had in the past.”

“They dealt with that really well, and both have been practicing hard, and we expect continued success from them.”

Takagi struggled in the final round, as she shot a three-over-par, finishing with a 219 (three-over-par).

Takagi, along with Kedronova, who are both underclassmen, have been leading the team on the course.

“Takagi led us in the fall for scoring average, and she’s a sophomore, too, so it’s great when you have young players that are playing at a high level,” VanDamme said. “We have some great upperclassmen as well. They didn’t happen to play great in this event, but they will in future events. It’s always a great sign when you have young players playing well.”

Kent State took over its tenth-place spot after the team shot a two-under-par 286.

The Flashes ended with a final four-over-par 868 score.

The team has finished in 10th or better in every event in the 2023-24 season.

Looking ahead

The team will travel to Sarasota, Florida, to participate in the Spartan Sun Coast Invitational.

The invitational will run from Feb. 18-19 and will be hosted by Michigan State.

Kent State will look to have the same success it found in the fall season, as the team had three top-seven finishes, including a second-place team finish.

The course in Florida is brand-new to VanDamme, who has never golfed there before.

“We’ll have to learn a lot in the practice round, and in the meantime, we’re continuing to keep training and getting better and improving at what we’re struggling with and improving what we’re good at,” he said. “We’re very fortunate; it looks like we’re going to have some good weather, so we’ll get some outside time this weekend and then we’ll get going the next week.”

John Hilber is the assistant sports editor. Contact him at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
John Hilber, Reporter
John is a sophomore majoring in journalism with a minor in psychology. This is his second year with the KentWired team as a sports reporter. Contact him at [email protected].

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