April 20, 2013
Bearcats in search of first MIAA title
By David Boyce
No matter what kind of predicament the five Northwest Missouri State golfers get in Monday and Tuesday at the MIAA Championships, coach Pat McLaughlin is confident they will find a way to success.
Juniors Cassie Lowell and Kristina D’Angela and sophomores Step Charteris, Taylor Gard and Ashley Powers demonstrated that mental toughness last week in the Green and Gold Invitational.
In the first day of the tournament, Northwest shot a 358
“When they showed up to the golf course on Monday it appeared to me they were much more focused,” McLaughlin said. “They had such good success at Branson that they were hoping to carry that wave into this tournament but at St. Joe they had some problems with some of the sands and the rough. They just didn’t play well and they knew they could.
“We came out and had the second best score on the second day behind Central Oklahoma at Mozingo.”
The Bearcats trimmed 29 strokes off their first-day score and finished third behind Central Oklahoma and Missouri Western.
Northwest enters this year’s MIAA Championships at Paradise Pointe in Smithville, Mo., with a lot at stake. A year ago, the Bearcats finished third in a field of six teams. They were only three shots from Fort Hays State and two strokes behind Missouri Western.
Individually, the Bearcats soared. Lowell easily won the conference title and was MIAA golfer of the year and Charteris earned freshman of the year.
“I will guarantee you Cassie and Step will go out and do everything they can to be the No. 1 player in this tournament,” McLaughlin said. “Step wants to continue to improve. I know Cassie doesn’t want to back off either. Our other players have come along well this year.
“To be able to play with the top team in conference last year gave us a lot of incentive over the summer to work even harder because we were so close. It led to our success in the fall.”
The expansion of the MIAA has nearly doubled the number teams in this year’s conference tournament to 11.
“Quite honestly, it changes the whole complexion of the golf tournament with doubling the number of teams and bringing in two very strong programs in Central Oklahoma and Northeastern Oklahoma,” McLaughlin said. “Unlike us, who have been out here in the snow and rain for weeks, they have been able to practice outside and do the things you need to do and on top of it, they are very strong programs.”
It is important for Northwest to do well in the conference tournament for another reason. They want to advance to the Central Region Tournament, which will be held May 5-7 at St. Joseph Country Club.
The top nine teams in region advance to the regional. Northwest is currently ninth. The two teams in conference ahead of the Bearcats are Central Oklahoma and Northeastern Oklahoma.
“We can’t falter in the conference tournament,” McLaughlin said. “If we come through and at least make third place if not be able to conquer the tournament, we should be able to have the opportunity to make region. There is that added pressure of that as well as performing well in the conference tournament.”
McLaughlin, though, likes the mental make-up of his players to handle it.
“We are taking a very good team to Smithville and one that has the capabilities of showing the rest of the teams in conference our improvement,” he said.
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