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Weather derails women’s golf, leads to season-low ranking

The Kent State women’s golf team struggled with bad weather in Florida during the Spartan Sun Coast Invitational event, resulting in a final ranking that has not been reached in almost five years.

The Flashes finished in 13th place out of 15 teams that competed in an event that concluded Feb. 19.

Kent State had not finished in 13th or worse since May 17-22, 2019, at the NCAA Championship, where the team finished in 17th place.

“You hope to not worry about that, and just take care of what you can control because you can’t control all the other teams that play,” coach Casey VanDamme said about the 13th place finish. “When we play the way we can play, that’s not anywhere where we’re going to finish and unfortunately, that is the reality; that is where we finished, and so we’ll make some adjustments.”

The team placed in the double-digits for the third consecutive event and had not recorded a 10th or worse finish before the streak started this season.

KSU’s last time finishing 10th or below before the streak occurred May 8-10, 2023, at the NCAA Regional event, where the team finished tied for 10th.

The first day saw rain, cutting the play from a normal day of 36 holes into just 18.

“Unfortunately, the weather was as bad as I’ve ever seen it in college golf,” VanDamme said. “We didn’t handle that very well, that’s for sure. The second day was better weather, but a couple of our players had a rough start. We finished very strong, but unfortunately, we put ourselves in a pretty big hole.”

Day 1

The first day of the event was supposed to have 36 holes of golf, but the weather resulted in a shortened 18-hole day.

“Anytime you have a 36-hole event — all of our events are 54 — and when something gets canceled, it tightens up things, and it makes it harder to overcome any mistakes,” VanDamme said. “Unfortunately, we made just too many of them and didn’t have enough time in the event to get back into where we should be.”

KSU struggled out of the gate, as the team posted a 16-over-par 304 in the first day of play.

None of the golfers shot under par on the first day, as sophomore Leon Takagi shot a two-over-par 74 for the round.

Senior Hester Sicking was not far behind, as she shot a three-over-par 75.

On the first day, junior Jennifer Gu and freshman Veronika Kedronova shot a five-over-par 77 and a six-over-par 78, respectively.

Sophomore Vera Yi brought up the rear after shooting a 13-over-par 85.

At the end of the abbreviated day, KSU was tied for 10th place with Michigan State.

Day 2

On the second day, all but one KSU golfer improved from the previous day, but the Flashes nevertheless fell in the rankings.

The only golfer to increase their score was Yi, who ended up shooting an eight-over-par 80, finalizing her 13-over-par 157 overall score.

Yi improved to with a 10-over-par 82 on the second day, finishing as the team’s highest-scoring golfer with a 23-over-par 167 performance.

Kedronova finished with a nine-over-par 153 outing after having a three-over-par 75 on the second day. She was voted as the Mid-American Conference’s Golfer of the Week Feb. 8, which marked her second time receiving the award this season.

“She’s won a college tournament — she’s a great player,” VanDamme said. “She’s a great student, and all of Kent State can be very proud that she’s representing them. This last event, she didn’t play very well, but I can attribute that to some weather and maybe trying a little too hard and having some bad breaks, and it all kind of winding together at the same time. I expect her to bounce back right away in the next event – she’s a great young lady.”

Sicking continued her solid outing and finished tied for 30th in the individual rankings.

She had a one-over-par 73 on the second day and had a four-over-par 148 overall.

Takagi led the way for the Flashes, as she finished with a one-over-par 145 overall score after having a one-under-par 71 on the second day.

Takagi was the team’s best average scorer in the fall season and has continued her tear into the spring season.

“She’s a great player, and she continues to improve and her work ethic has gotten better in her time here,” VanDamme said. “She’s a great ball striker and has made some good improvements from the last event. She hit it better, but she started poorly on the last day and came back strong, so I’m happy. She also doesn’t start poorly very often, which is a good thing so we don’t want her to practice that too much.”

The team dropped three spots in the rankings, finishing with a 27-over-par 603 team overall score and a 13th-place finish.

Reflection and looking ahead

The team only had one under-par round, which came from Takagi on the second day.

The team faced no constant struggle, other than the weather, to get these results.

“We have some people that are struggling with their swings, some people’s confidence is a little bit shaken and rattled, and then some short game stuff,” VanDamme said about the team’s struggles. “Things pop up in our sport and there’s not one glaring thing that we can work on as a team, it’s more individual.”

VanDamme said that practice leading into the team’s next event will not focus on one specific thing.

“We’re going to be working on a lot of things — a lot of individual stuff,” he said. “The first thing they do is get back to school. We’ve had some players that haven’t been feeling great, so they need to get their health back and get their sleep back a little bit.”

The next event for the Flashes will be in just under three weeks when the team travels to Nevada for the Jackrabbit Invitational.

“A couple of days off will probably be the best thing we can do, and then getting back at it hard with a good game plan so they can build some confidence,” VanDamme said. “We have a little more time in between these events, so that will help them for sure.”

The event will run from March 11-12 and will be hosted by South Dakota State University.

The team will look to turn the tables on their recent finishes.

“We’re going there to try controlling all we can control and playing the best we can and hopefully come with a victory or as close as we can to it,” VanDamme said. “That’s what we try to do every event, and get back a little bit more to the way we can play.”

John Hilber is 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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