April 14, 2012
Bearcat golfers take confidence into MIAA Championships
By David Boyce
In the last golf tournament before the MIAA Championships on Monday and Tuesday, Northwest Missouri State freshman Steph Charteris shot an 80 on the first day of the Avila Spring Invitational.
It was good enough to place her third after the first round of the five-team tournament last Monday.
Charteris wasn’t satisfied.
“My putting that day wasn’t the greatest,” she said. “There was still another day left in the tournament. I wanted to putt better the next day.”
So Charteris went to the practice green after her round and worked on her putting for an hour.
Charteris shot a 78 on the second day and finished second behind sophomore teammate Cassie Lowell.
“She was really focused for this tournament,” Northwest coach Pat McLaughlin said. “She has been in the top 10 of every tournament since she has been here. She played some really good golf.”
Actually, the entire Northwest golf team is playing its best golf of the season at the right time.
The Bearcats won their second straight tournament winning the Avila Spring Invitational by 15 strokes over second-place finisher Missouri Western.
The margin is very impressive when you factor in Northwest held just a one stroke lead after the first round.
McLaughlin was proud of how focused his team came out on the second day, particularly since it was chilly.
Also playing well was sophomore Kristina D’Angela, who finished with a two-day total of 162, which was good enough for fourth place.
“She was always a top five player for us,” McLaughlin said. “She has established herself as the third player on our team. She had back-to-back 81s which is a personal record for her.”
From all indications, Northwest is primed to have their best showing ever in the MIAA Championships, which will be held at Paradise Point Golf Course in Smithville, Mo.
In all three MIAA Championships that Northwest has participated in, the Bearcats have finished fifth each time. They enter this year’s conference tournament as the favorite.
“I hope the confidence level is very high,” McLaughlin said. “The success they had in the fall and bring that into the spring against really good team and then be able to play and beat other MIAA schools has been good.
“As far as the pairings, Northwest is in first place in the MIAA. That is the first time in school history. That is amazing to me.”
Northwest will be competing against Fort Hays State, Lincoln, Missouri Western and Truman.
“Of course, the conference tournament is extremely important, but at the same time we are sending three freshmen and two sophomores and they can be overwhelmed by the whole atmosphere and get out of their game,” McLaughlin said.
“That is what I don’t want to happen. Let them go down and play their game. They have played very well. If they continued to do what they have been doing, they will be fine.”
The young players push each other. Lowell and Charteris are perfect example of the friendly competition helping the team overall score.
“I think they feed off each other,” McLaughlin said. “They are very good friends. They want to beat each other badly just from a friend standpoint as any golfer would going out with their best friend to play golf. It has really elevated their play because of that.”
Charteris likes the way the entire team is playing heading into the MIAA Championships.
“I think our confidence is really good,” she said. “We have beaten every team in our conference this spring so far. There have been a lot of girls who have shot their lowest round of the year in the past couple of tournaments.”
It helps that Northwest has already played on this course. On March 5-6, the Bearcats competed in the Early Bird Invitational at Paradise Point and took second as a team. Charteris tied for fourth and Lowell was eighth.
“The girls already know what to anticipate as far as what the course layout is,” McLaughlin said. “I think during our practice round we will concentrate on course management, staying focused because they know the layout. Now it is a matter of putting it altogether and going out and performing to their ability.”
Northwest is poised to do something special in a few days from now.
“I know last year I thought they were capable of doing better than fifth,” Charteris said. “This year is more of a redemption year.”
McLaughlin added; “The girls have a great opportunity to make some Northwest history this week.”
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