Under pressure

Rachel Jones

Just days from finals week, several Kent State students are starting to feel some intense pressure.

But for the students who are also members of the Kent State women’s golf team, that academic pressure can enjoy the company of the pressures from starting the Central Region Tournament May 5-7 for a shot at the NCAA Finals.

“This is the hardest and best tournament of the year,” said Kent State coach Mike Morrow. “It’s a lot of intensity, excitement and pressure all rolled into one.”

The tournament acts as a stepping stone for teams to advance to the NCAA Finals.

Women’s golf teams from across the U.S. are divided into three regions – with 24 teams in each region – and the top eight teams in each region earn the right to proceed.

“If you’re not one of the teams who goes to finals, your season is over,” Morrow said. “It’s do or die.”

The Flashes lived to see the NCAA Finals four times in their 13 years of competition, but they will have to fight passed some tough teams if they want a little history repeating.

This year, the top eight teams will play for a championship title at Texas A&M.

Morrow said some of the better golfers they will face hail from UCLA, Duke, Stanford, Ohio State and the host team, Notre Dame.

No. 11 Kent State has only played a few of the top dogs during the regular season.

But Morrow said their second-place finish at the Lady Buckeye Invitational on April 17 and their 13th-straight Mid-American Conference Championship April 24 are helping the Flashes play with more confidence.

Keeping Morrow smiling is the fact that Kent State is bringing the same five golfers – seniors Sarah Bradley and Martina Gavier and juniors Mandi Morrow, Shamira Marshall and Mercedes Germino – who brought the Flashes to the NCAA Finals last year.

“They’ve been in that pressure cooker before, so they know what to expect,” Morrow. “They can handle it better.”

With all five finishing in the top 13 during the MAC Championship, and Bradley, Gavier and Marsha finishing third, fourth and fifth, respectively, the golfers showed they can also handle coming out on top at big tournaments.

To keep that MAC momentum going until next week, Morrow gave the players two days off to recover.

Starting Wednesday, the team will focus on fine tuning the minor details of their games.

And despite all of the pressures of grades and golf they may be feeling, Morrow said the players are excited and looking forward to going to the Central Regional Tournament.

As is Morrow.

“This is my favorite tournament because there is just so much on the line,” Morrow said. “But this isn’t our first rodeo.”

Contact Rachel Jones at [email protected]