Women golfers to defend MAC title

Courtesy of Kent State Athletic DepartmentSenior women’s golfer Mercedes Germino.

Courtesy of Kent State Athletic DepartmentSenior women’s golfer Mercedes Germino.

Nick Shook

The defending Mid-American Conference tournament champion Kent State Golden Flashes return to the links this fall after a busy summer. 

Senior Mandi Morrow, a 2011 second-team All-MAC nomination, competed in the regional qualifier for the 2011 U.S. Amateur, but failed to qualify by shooting a four-over par. She found success at the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship in Bandon, Ore. Morrow advanced to match play, where she fell to defending champion Emily Tubert, 4 and 2.

“I kind of have high expectations for myself at this point in my golf career,” said Morrow. 

“We’ve got a good team this year, so it’s going to be competitive.”

Incoming freshman Jennifer Ha has wasted no time in making a strong first impression on head coach Mike Morrow with her performance in the Rolex Tournament of Champions, where she finished 16th overall in the field of 66 golfers. Ha one-upped herself a month later by winning her second straight tournament, shooting a four-under 67 to take home the CN Future Links Championship at Wolf Creek Resort in Ponoka, Alberta. Ha won the Alberta Junior Girls Championship by 18 strokes during the previous weekend, shooting a six-under 282. 

“I only met her on a recruiting trip,” Mike Morrow said. “But from the way she’s been playing this summer, I think she’s going to be one of our top golfers.”

The Golden Flashes have plenty to be optimistic about heading into the fall season. Three seniors, including Morrow, Mercedes Germino and Shamira Marshall, return to lead the Flashes into regular season play.

The season begins with the Mary Fossum Invitational, hosted by Michigan State. Following the visit to East Lansing, the Flashes will travel to Highland Park, Ill. to participate in the Windy City Collegiate Classic, hosted by Northwestern University. The travels continue for Kent State, as they round out their fall slate with tournaments at Stanford and Texas.

Regular season play will resume for the Golden Flashes on February 12 with their participation in the Lady Puerto Rico Classic, where Kent State finished tied for sixth place in Feb. 2011. The team will play in two tournaments in Florida on Feb. 20-22 and March 16-18, and another in Georgia, March 30-April 1. A return trip to their home state of Ohio rounds out the regular season schedule, with a tournament hosted by Ohio State, April 21-22. 

The defending MAC Tournament champions, who have won 11 straight tournament titles, return to defend their crown April 27-29 at the 2012 MAC Championship at Hawthornes Golf and Country Club in Fishers, Ind. The Golden Flashes will then look to move on to the NCAA Regionals May 10-12.

“As a team, we expect to win the MAC again,” said Morrow. “Then make it through regionals and then make it to the NCAA finals and have a good showing.”

The Flashes will look to build on past success, and the addition of former standout Maddi Swaney, a Kent State graduate and second team All-MAC honoree in 2008 and 2009, to the coaching staff could jump-start their success in 2011-12. A 12th-straight MAC Tournament title is in the crosshairs of the 35th-ranked team in the nation.

“I’m excited,” Morrow said. “Maddi knows how the program is, our style of coaching, and I think she’ll fit in well with the program.”

Contact Nick Shook at [email protected].