April 19, 2012
Northwest golf caps prolific season
By David Boyce
After attending her three classes at Northwest Missouri State Wednesday, sophomore Cassie Lowell took a break at the student union.
It was a typical spring school day for Lowell.
The normal buzz of students talking about schoolwork, upcoming finals and other assorted things was loud enough that Lowell had to step away to hear questions during a cell phone interview.
Lowell was in a bubbly mood. She laughed at a question of did she fear a snowman on the last hole of the MIAA Women’s Golf Tournament Tuesday at Paradise Pointe in Smithville, Mo.
An 8-over-par on the last hole of the two-day conference tournament would have been the only way Lowell might have finished out of first place. And even an 8 would have forced a playoff.
Lowell shot back-to-back 76 and won the individual title of the MIAA Golf tournament by a whopping eight strokes over second place finisher, Natalie Bird of Missouri Western.
“I don’t know how to describe it,” Lowell said. “I was definitely very excited about it. I just went out there to play me best and whatever happened, happened. I was just trying to play my best golf game.
“It was something I wanted to accomplish while I was at Northwest.”
Lowell’s performance, coupled with the play of freshman Steph Carteris propelled Northwest to a third place finish at the conference tournament. It was the highest place the Bearcats have taken.
Charteris, who finished with a two-day total of 161, took third, just one stroke behind Bird.
“Steph Charteris received MIAA Freshman of the year award. Cassie was Tournament Player of the Year and surprisingly, I got Coach of the Year,” Northwest coach Pat McLaughlin said.
“A lot of hardware came back to Maryville. It was pretty exciting stuff.”
And yet, one day after climbing to the top of the MIAA in women’s golf, Lowell was back to enjoying life as a Northwest student.
Still, Wednesday was a little different from other days for Lowell. Classmates and professors congratulated her for her wonderful performance in the conference tournament.
“That is definitely neat to hear that from people who don’t necessarily play golf or know a lot about golf,” she said.
Everybody, though, can relate to the hard work and the determination to improve.
A year ago, Lowell showed championship character right away, winning tournaments early in her career.
Lowell was poised to make a splash in her first MIAA Tournament. Instead, freshmen jitters got to her. She finished tied for 23rd, 33 shots behind the winner.
Of course, Lowell was disappointed in how her season finished.
“It was in the back of my mind throughout this season,” Lowell said. “I never tried to specifically think about it because it would just make me more frustrated how I played in conference last year. I know it was more motivation to do better this year.”
Lowell began play in the conference tournament this year a bit nervous. Nervousness at the start of competition is good. It means you care how you do.
Lowell wanted to do very well. Plus, she had a handle on her nerves.
“My dad kept reminding me it was just another 18 holes against players you have played with all season,” Lowell said.
It also helped that Lowell was paired with Fort Hays State’s Samantha Nielsen, someone she has played golf against since Lowell’s high school days at Concordia High School in Concordia, Kan.
“It definitely took some of the nerves out for me,” she said.
Lowell played her game and stayed consistent throughout the two-day event. She received plenty of encouragement from her coach and her parents.
“They try to make it to every tournament to watch me,” Lowell said. “They have done that throughout high school, too. Without their support I would not have made it this far. I have them to thank for that.”
By the time Lowell reached the final hole of the conference tournament it was a foregone conclusion she was headed for a win.
The dreaded snowman was something that could only happen if winter actually returns to the Midwest in 2012-13.
“It was very exciting,” McLaughlin said. “I know the type of quality player Cassie is. I was so happy for her. She was very disappointed in her performance last year at conference. She has worked really hard this year and it has paid off for her. She had four tournament wins. The culmination was of course her win at conference.
“Her performance last year at conference was not indicative of the fantastic year she had last year as well. I think part of it was just being a freshman at conference the first time. With the year behind her and she understood the quality golf you need to play at conference and she stayed focused.”
Because she is only a freshman, Charteris’ third-place finish was nearly as remarkable.
“I was very impressed,” Lowell said, “but I kind of knew going in that if she played well she would be in the top five. She is a very good player.”
McLaughlin added, “Steph has just been so solid for us the whole year. She has really helped us with our entire season with our wins this year. She has been very consistent. As a freshman, to come into the conference tournament and place third is phenomenal.”
The future looks extremely bright for the Bearcats. Three freshmen and two sophomores competed for Northwest in the conference tournament.
The team went to Paradise Pointe with the goal of capturing the conference title. While they were happy they returned with their best finish ever, they were left a bit disappointed by finishing a mere three strokes out of first place.
“We fell a little bit short,” McLaughlin said. “We are happy we had such a great season. It is our best conference finish, but it does give us impetus to work a little harder next year.
“With such a young team and having five wins, two seconds and two thirds this year, it bodes well for the future. We signed a couple of new players for next year that should help us out. I know the season is over, but I’m already excited about next season.”
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