GVSU claims seventh straight GLIAC title

Julie Guckian

GVL/Archive Julie Guckian

Steven Garber

Great teams find a way to play their best late in the season, and three-time GLIAC Coach of the Year Rebecca Mailloux certainly has her team doing just that.

With a strong class of golfers aiding the reigning GLIAC Golfer of the Year Kelly Hartigan, the No. 24 Grand Valley State University women’s golf team stayed hot by winning its seventh straight GLIAC Championship (April 25-27) with a team score of 943 across 54 holes at the Winding Hollow Golf Club in New Albany, Ohio.

“They’re really feeding off each other’s successes, and that ultimately drives them to get better,” Mailloux said. “I think that’s a huge reason for our continued success and improvement over the semester.”

Hartigan earned medalist honors for the second straight year by shooting a 227 (11) to outlast GVSU teammate and freshman standout Julie Guckian, who finished second with a 233 (17). Hartigan set a school record by winning her sixth event of the season, and she needs just one more victory to tie the GVSU career record of 11.

GVSU had four of its five golfers finish inside the top 10 for the first time since 2010, which also marks the last time it won by more than 10 strokes. Sophomore Gabrielle Shipley took seventh with a 241 (25) and senior Veronica Ryan carded a 243 (27) to finish 10th. Junior Molly Esordi shot a 253 (37) to come away in 21st place.

The Lakers finished 33 strokes ahead of No. 19 Ferris State University while the University of Findlay, Ashland University, and Northwood University rounded out the top five.

“They’re working harder than they ever have,” Mailloux said of her team. “They know what they want to accomplish in the season, and it’s much bigger things than just winning a GLIAC Championship.”

Her squad has seemingly been stellar, poised and unperturbed by the competition down the stretch in 2014.

The Lakers have won four of their last five events, and have had at least three players notch top-10 finishes in each of their last three outings.

“Everyone can play even better than they did this weekend into the regional tournament,” Hartigan said. “No one’s reached their ultimate peak yet.”

The GLIAC Championship marks the sixth team victory of the 2013-2014 campaign for the GVSU. The Lakers have also took fifth or better in nine of their 11 tournaments.

The goal to compete nationally lingers in the back of their minds while the accomplishments are in clear view, but still, the philosophy has been centered by a practice-hard, play-hard approach.

“Practice pays off,” Guckian said. “It’s showing with the results.”

The Lakers will hope to surpass the competition in the NCAA Division II East Super Regional, where the team was sent home last year, en route to a national championship appearance.

The recent scorecards certainly seem to indicate that GVSU is one of the favorites as long as the Lakers are able to sustain their level of play.

The chance to advance to nationals is currently taking place at the Purgatory Country Club in Indianapolis, Ind. The three-day event will conclude on Tuesday.