Story by Mallory Tucker, Staff writer
The sun was shining on the women’s golf team as the team finished its first tournament of the 2015-16 season, simultaneously taking home their first title.
The Racers tallied scores of 303+300=603 over the two-day, two-round MSU Invitational at Miller Memorial Golf Course in Murray. In a field of 12 OVC and non-conference teams, these scores put the Racers 11 strokes under the second place Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
After relocating the tournament which is usually played at Drake Creek Golf Course in Ledbetter, Kentucky, because of poor course conditions, the women wouldn’t have asked for a better result.
“Absolutely perfect day,” Head Coach Velvet Milkman said. “I know it’s a little bit of a disappointment that we didn’t get to play at Drake Creek, but we made the best of a situation, and the weather was perfect. So it was a great tournament.”
The Racers’ two seniors, Abbi Stamper and Sophie Hillier, joined junior Sydney Trimble on the All-Tournament team alongside a golfer from SIUC and Austin Peay each.
With scores of 73+76=149, Trimble lost by just one stroke to Brooke Cusumano, tying for second with Austin Peay’s individual competitor Morgan Gardner. Stamper and Hillier carded total scores of 150 each, tying for fourth place. After the first round, Trimble led the tournament, shooting one shot higher than Cusumano.
“It was sad, definitely, but I’m glad to know what it feels like to be on the leaderboard and in that position, because I haven’t been that close before to winning a tournament,” Trimble said. “It is sad that I lost, but I’m so grateful for the experience to know what it feels like, so maybe next time I get there I can pull through and win.”
Sophomores Moa Folke and Anna Moore rounded out the Racers’ top five, while freshmen Nadine Innes and Jane Watts placed 12th and 26th, respectively. Juniors Jacklyn Van Meter and Leah Rose Judd placed 19th and 66th, joining Innes and Watts as individual competitors.
“I’m very pleased with how they played,” Milkman said. “Being their first college tournament, they certainly had a lot of nerves, and it showed early. But they settled in and I’m very pleased with what they did. It’s a good place for them to start and know they’re going to get better.”
As a junior, Trimble hopes to lead younger golfers on the team by always playing her best.
“You’ve just got to play within yourself and not get too ahead,” Trimble said. “I went out there thinking, ‘I’m just going to play my best;’ not really, ‘Beat the girl in front of me.’ I hope that the girls that come in after will just play within themselves as well and just really play their game. Because that’s really all that matters – just how they play.”
Hosting the tournament and presenting awards, Milkman was busy awarding throw blankets, YETI tumblers, decorative frames and a silver platter to the top two teams, the All-Tournament team and the tournament medalist, Cusamano, who thanked Milkman for both the tournament and the “on par” snacks.
Starting the season with a win, however, was the most important thing on both her and her players’ minds. Trimble said she envisions many more wins in the team’s future, and Milkman is focusing on what’s next, as well.
“We needed this win for a confidence-booster,” Milkman said. “We do have some experience, but I still think we’re young. And to come out and win and get a taste of victory early will certainly make a difference in the long run.”
The Racers won’t hit the links for another tournament until Sept. 27 when they’ll compete in the three-day Chris Banister Classic hosted by Jacksonville State in Glencoe, Alabama.