Women’s golf relies on younger players

Doug Gulasy

Keeping winning streak alive rests on returnees, new faces

Senior Kirby Dreher chips from the bunker. PHOTO COURTESY OF KENT STATE SPORTS INFORMATION

Credit: DKS Editors

It has become seemingly a yearly ritual for the Kent State women’s golf team.

Each year, the Flashes have to replace valuable players from the year before. And yet each year, the Flashes win the Mid-American Conference Championships.

This season, the Flashes will have just three returning lettermen from last season as they attempt to win the MAC Championships for the 11th straight year.

2008 Women’s golf schedule

&bull Sept. 20-21 Mary Fossum Invitational (East Lansing, Mich.)

&bull Oct. 3-5 Tar Heel Invitational (Chapel Hill, N.C.)

&bull Oct. 10-12 Mercedes Benz Women’s Collegiate (Knoxville, Tenn.)

&bull Nov. 2-4 NCGA Collegiate Match Play Championship (Orlando, Fla.)

“We keep trying to reload and bring in very talented players who have a lot of room for improvement, and hopefully their games grow as they’re here and they become very accomplished players,” coach Mike Morrow said. “That’s always our goal.”

Kira Meixner and Tara Delaney, both of whom have placed first at the MAC Championships in their careers, graduated after last season. That leaves seniors Maddi Swaney and Kirby Dreher and sophomore Martina Gavier as the only returning golfers with experience from last season.

The other golfers on the team lack experience, but Swaney thinks they’ll be able to do a good job.

“They have some big shoes to fill, but I think hopefully they’ll be able to step up to the challenge,” Swaney said. “I think they can, so I think we should be pretty good.”

As for the three returnees with experience, Morrow said they should provide leadership for the younger members of the team.

“(Their) experience should hopefully propel their game to the next level,” he said. “We’re going to count on those three very heavily to keep this team improving.”

Last season, the Flashes ranked 13th in the country in the final collegiate poll, and they placed in the top five teams in every tournament but one. The team won three tournaments, including a dominating 51-stroke victory at the MAC Championships.

Swaney said she hopes the team will continue its strong play from last season.

“I think we can kind of go (into the season) with the mindset to continue the momentum that we (had) from last season,” she said. “We can win the first tournament, and that would be great. We have the talent to do that.”

If the Flashes do have a successful season, that will continue the women’s golf program’s successful tradition. The women’s golf team is entering its 11th year of existence at Kent State, and the Flashes won the MAC title in each of their first 10 years.

While the major tournaments such as the MAC Championships, NCAA Regionals and NCAA Championships aren’t until the spring season, Morrow said he still wants to have a strong fall season.

“The first tournament, as far as rankings and everything goes, means as much as the last tournament before conference (championships),” Morrow said. “We really don’t have a lot of time to do things. We just have to get off to a good start and hopefully keep improving.”

Contact managing editor Doug Gulasy at [email protected].