Life after Kristina Langton

GVL Archive/ Bri Goodyear
Unbreakable concentration: GVSU Sophomore Kristina Langton gears up for a swing during the NCAA East Regionals this past summer.

GVL Archive/ Bri Goodyear Unbreakable concentration: GVSU Sophomore Kristina Langton gears up for a swing during the NCAA East Regionals this past summer.

Jared Greenleaf

In any sport, the departure of a key member can demoralize a team when trying to reach its goals. As for GVSU’s women’s golf team, losing one of its teammates to the professional ranks has instead only added fuel to the fire in their attempt to become the top team in the country.

Just one week after her team finished second at the Division II National Championships last May, Grand Valley State University head coach Rebecca Mailloux was notified by former standout Kristina Langton that she would be leaving school to become a professional golfer.

Langton’s decision came to Mailloux as a surprise.

“I didn’t know it was going to be so soon, I thought she might give it another year,” she said. “I knew that it (was a decision) down the road; we had talked about it at one point. I wasn’t exactly forewarned it was going to happen soon. I knew she wanted to go pro … that wasn’t a mystery.”

The decision not only came as a surprise to Mailloux, but it was also a shocking revelation to her teammates.

“I think we were all surprised that she did it so soon,” said senior Ashley Smith. “So once we got past the initial shock or surprise that after her sophomore year, she would do that, I think we moved on pretty quickly and just started to work hard and didn’t let it bother us.”

Losing Langton, a Grand Rapids native, also meant losing a player who left a notable golf legacy at GVSU and in the surrounding area.

As a senior at Grand Rapids Catholic Central High School in 2007, Langton won the Division III state title. At GVSU, she was a first-team All-American and earned first-team All-GLIAC honors twice. Langton also captured the Grand Rapids City Golf Championship in 2008.

While the awards indicate the Lakers should have been devastated by the loss, this season’s results have been just as strong as last season. Through last fall and into this spring, the team has won five times, while also taking home a second and third place finish.

“Kristina’s decision (to turn pro) really motivated us,” said junior Allie Tyler. “A lot of people thought that because we lost her, we were not going to be as good and might wonder what will happen to us. We’re proving we’re just as good, we’re shooting the same scores and we’re winning the same number of tournaments if not more. I think it’s motivated us and we’re doing really well.”

Langton is currently playing on the Duramed Future’s Tour, which is the LPGA’s developmental tour. After missing the cut in her first Duramed event this spring, she ended March by finishing tied for 21st at the Riviera Nayarit Challenge in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico.

Mailloux said she believed Langton made the right decision for herself.

“She wasn’t exactly into the school side of things,” Mailloux said. “She’s got a huge passion for the game of golf and always wanted to go pro. There’s definitely no lack of dedication or work ethic there. I think she’s much happier doing that then trying to do the school and golf thing together.”

Though the team is doing just fine in Langton’s absence, Tyler said it has urged the team more than ever to shoot for the lowest score possible.

“It pushes us more knowing that we lost a consistent low scorer every single tournament,” Tyler said. “It really forced us to elevate our games and shoot consistently low like she did. It puts more pressure on us knowing we lost that consistent scorer, but I think we’ve been able to right the challenge and we’ve been good so far.”

The Lakers will look to bring home another tournament title when they head to Springfield, Mo., to compete in the Lady Panther Spring Shootout this weekend. The Lakers will play a practice round on Friday before competing on Saturday and Sunday.

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