Men’s and women’s golf set to tee off

Brittany Tatgenhorst

After impressive spring seasons, KSU prepares for important fall tournaments

The Kent State men’s and women’s golf teams hope to achieve high goals this year after gaining momentum from successful spring seasons.

Last season’s men’s team placed sixth in the nation at the 2008 NCAA Championships. Kent State coach Herb Page called the team the greatest he’s seen in his 30-year coaching career with the program. Four core players return to the men’s team, which solidifies the fall roster.

Junior David Ludlow and sophomores John Hahn, Brett Cairns and Jean-Phillipe Paiement had successful seasons last spring, and Page anticipates continued improvement. Hahn, the 2008 Mid-American Conference player of the year, led the team with a scoring average of 73. Hahn placed 63rd at the 108th U.S. Amateur Open last month, shooting 5-over-par.

“We’re going to be pretty young,” Page said, “but our younger players led us last year.”

Both the men’s and women’s teams hope to win the MAC Championships this spring. Doing so would bring the men’s team its 17th and the women’s team its 11th MAC victory. The golf teams are also looking to compete and place in the NCAA Championships in the spring.

With such high expectations looming in the spring season, it’s crucial for the golf teams to perform their best this fall.

“There is a misconception that the fall doesn’t count, and it does,” Page said. “The tournament that we play two weeks from now is just as important as the one we play in April.”

The men’s team begins its season Sept. 6 at the Maryland Intercollegiate, held at the River Marsh Golf Club in Cambridge, Md. Meanwhile, the women will travel to East Lansing, Mich., and begin their season with the Mary Fossum Invitational at the Forest Akers West Golf Course on Sept. 20.

“We want to come out of the gate strong and win the first tournament,” said senior Kirby Dreher, who led the women’s team with a scoring average of 74.7 last year.

The women’s team has won the MAC title every year since the start of the program in 1997. The team expects nothing less this year despite having to replace standout Kira Meixner, who reached the round of 16 in the 108th U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship last month.

“Our goals are the same every season,” Dreher said, “to play the best we can, to win the MAC again and to qualify for nationals.”

Both teams have an aggressive schedule in the fall, putting them in a better position to achieve their goals in the spring.

“We want to test ourselves against the best in the country,” Page said. “We have built a tradition of excellence with our program.”

Contact sports reporter Brittany Tatgenhorst at [email protected].