UNIVERSITY PARK, IL – Inexperience couldn't slow down a Governors State women's golf team that achieved several milestones during its second varsity season.
GSU recorded its first-ever team score, generated its lowest round (386), produced its first medalist and made its debut at the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships, finishing ninth out of 11 teams.
A team that featured just two golfers during its inaugural season was tripled in size behind the recruiting efforts of Head Coach Mark Haines, who brought five new golfers aboard.
The additions included junior transfer Emily Bell, a former softball player at Wisconsin-Parkside, who shot a school-record low round of 88 at the Jaguar Illiana Shootout, just 10 months after picking up the clubs for the first time. Graduate student Anne Best joined the team during the spring season, and despite a four-year layoff from competitive action, finished with a team-low scoring average (100.3) along with claiming the program's first medal with a fifth-place showing at the Jaguar Spring Invitational.
Other newcomers included Megan Kirn, a former softball player at South Suburban College, who posted the team's lowest score in the season opener. Doctoral candidate Hollie Campbell also saw action at a pair of tournaments.
Nicole Brusich led the Orange and Black in scoring four times and finished with the second-best scoring average (108.8) on the team. The senior's contributions drew praise from Haines.
"Nicole never missed a tournament or practice and gave a 100 percent effort every time out. She made noticeable improvement and will graduate as our career scoring leader. She's the type of student-athlete GSU should be proud to have."
The Jaguars, who played just two matches last season, enjoyed a robust schedule that featured 10 tournament dates, including three at the team's new home course — Lincoln Oaks in Crete. The extra time on the links made a difference according to Haines.
"One of my goals for this year was to break 400 as a team, which we achieved. I also wanted our golfers to score under 100 and a majority of them were able to do that. There was a noticeable difference in the scoring averages which fell from the fall to spring seasons."
In addition, the Jaguars excelled in the classroom, posting a 3.73 overall grade-point during the school year, the highest of any GSU athletic team. Haines' squad also received an Academic National Championship (for NAIA) from the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA). In addition, Campbell, Kirn and Marciniak earned NAIA-Daktronics Scholar-Athlete honors while the Jaguars earned four selections to the CCAC All-Academic Team, tying for second-most in the conference.
"While many of our golfers aren't seasoned players, they made great athletic improvement during the year, which gives us momentum going into the 2017-18 season," stated Haines.