GVSU women’s golf falls short of championship goal, remembers special season

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GVSU women’s golf falls short of championship goal, remembers special season

Sean Cauvet

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While most college students were out of school and enjoying the start of summer vacation, the Grand Valley State University women’s golf team was hyper-focused on reaching its goal: The Division II Women’s Golf National Championship.

However, the team fell short of advancing to the new medal match play format of the top eight teams, as it finished in 14th place overall.

The Lakers finished in first place in the GLIAC Conference Championships back in April and top-three in the East Regionals, but fell short of their goal during the NCAA Tournament.

The NCAA Tournament was played over a three-day period, from May 14-16. The top eight teams by the end of the third day moved on to the final round of play, a new format called “medal-match play”.

In the format, five golfers from each team go head-to-head and a point is rewarded for each golfer that scores lower than their opponent. The team with the most points out of five wins the round and advances.

“You know, we played pretty well the first day, but the second round, in my opinion, is the one that really hurt us and put us behind the eight ball,” said GVSU women’s golf head coach Rebecca Mailloux. “It caused us to really have to fight for a good number on the final round of stroke play, which considering the conditions with it being super windy that final day and some really challenging hole locations thrown at us, it just wasn’t our day to fight back and fight our way into the top eight positions.”

With that, the 2018-19 GVSU women’s golf season had come to an end. Reflecting on the season, junior golfer Katie Chipman described the 2019 NCAA Tournament as a memorable one.

“We had one senior, Mackenzie Blomberg, and she graduated this year,” Chipman said. “She was tied for second the first day with a 71 so we were super proud of her for that shooting lights out in the first day of her last national tournament was definitely memorable. Then just coming off my last hole and seeing her and knowing that she graduates, she’s done and I still have one more year to go is definitely memorable and definitely a tournament I won’t ever forget.”

As the only senior on the 2018-19 team, Blomberg had an increased duty within the squad.

“I did take up a bigger role this year, but it wasn’t anything that I wasn’t used to,” Blomberg said. “Everyone joked around that I was kind of like the ‘team mom’ because I always tried to make sure everything was organized, uniforms were ready and everything was set.”

One player that Blomberg said has shined is reigning back-to-back GLIAC Women’s Golfer of the Year Katie Chipman.

“(Chipman) is one of the most driven people, golf-wise, that I have ever met,” Blomberg said. “I noticed her stepping up as a leader the last few months of the season and I think she is definitely capable of fulfilling a bigger role as a leader the team can depend on next year. She has so much potential that she doesn’t even realize is there. I think she knows it, but she is a modest person so I like to hype her up whenever I can.”

Chipman attributed her success to the people around her and being prepared.

“The key to my success has been really just trusting my game and making sure I really feel confident before stepping on that field for the tournament day and just having the belief from my coaches and my teammates,” Chipman said. “It really helps just making sure I get all my practice in and get to play with my teammates. All that, I think, has fueled my success for these three years.”

With the season coming to an end, Mailloux looks back on the season and focuses on her favorite moment. Just before the GLIAC Conference Championships, Mailloux said an unforeseen situation called for a freshman to step up.

“In the conference championship, we had to sub in Erin Johnson, who had never played in the lineup all season long,” Mailloux said. “In two of the four rounds, she beat the whole team. She came out of the gate in the first round and shot an even par 72. She did way more than we ever could have hoped for and having that experience bring the team together was definitely a highlight for me this year.”

Chipman said many players from the team will also be doing individual tournament play to work on their games. Team activities for the Lakers will start back up in August.

Bloomberg said, “I think the team for next year has a lot of potential. They’ll have every opportunity to be successful yet again.”