Men’s and women’s golf set sights on nationals as season begins

Kyle Roskamp

On these beautiful first days of the fall semester, a time when most Grand Valley State University students are kissing mom and dad goodbye and starting their college years, the men’s and women’s golf teams are hard at work preparing for the upcoming season.

Last season was a successful one for the women as they picked up a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) championship, a runners-up finish at the Midwest Regional and seventh place finish at nationals. Much of their success last year and their ambition moving forward to the 2012-2013 season can be attributed to their coach, Rebecca Mailloux, and the high standards she has for the program.

“Overall, when you say you’re the seventh best team in the country, that sounds great,” Mallioux said. “But all the girls would agree that our performance at Nationals wasn’t what we were hoping for.”

Mailloux hopes her team can improve on last season’s accomplishments by overcoming the loss of Sarah Hoffman, who, as a senior, was the GLIAC Champion, an All-American and an integral part of the GVSU team.

Mailloux can rest a little easier knowing that she has three more years of golf from sophomore and last season’s GLIAC Freshman of the Year, Kelly Hartigan.

“You always want to plan ahead for the next year, with how many seniors you have leaving and how many freshman are coming in,” Mailloux explained, “And it was a huge thing for us to get Kelly Hartigan last year.”

“It’s hard to predict who is going to be the next Sarah Hoffman, and you aren’t trying to replace someone like that,” she said. “But I think Kelly is going to do a great job filling in Sarah’s spot.”

They begin their season on September 16 at the Concordia University Invitational in Lake Elmo, Minn.

The men’s team missed the national tournament last season by one spot after finishing 6th in the regional competition in Jefferson, Mo.

“I had a number in mind (to qualify)” said Underwood “We shot below that number but we still didn’t make it. That’s just golf.”

Both Underwood and the team are hoping to succeed with a younger team this year, after graduating Ben Brooks and Travis Shooks, as well as losing would-be senior Chase Olsen in a transfer to Ferris State University.

“Golf is different than a lot of sports,” Underwood said. “In college football, the only way you can go through the trials of college football is by playing in college football games. In golf, our young guys can play in some really high level tournaments in the off season … so (our youth) isn’t going to be as big of a deal.”

Underwood hopes the experience his team has gained in the off-season will benefit them when they travel to some really high quality tournaments, such as the University of Indianapolis Invitational at Brickyard Crossings in mid-September, where all of last year’s top five teams will be playing.

But Underwood still wants that GLIAC title, and also to take care of last season’s unfinished business.

“Our goal is to win another conference championship, and hopefully qualify for nationals.” said Underwood.

The road to Hershey, Penn. and the nationals begins September 8 at the Northern Michigan Invitational in Marquette.

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