By CEDRIQUE FLEMMING
The Northeastern State women’s golf team recently returned home after finishing eighth at the 2013 NCAA Division II Championships in Daytona Beach, Fla.
The RiverHawks were making their seventh appearance at nationals, the most of any school in the 12-team field, and they still have not finished lower than eighth at the event in their seven trips.
“It was great to be back at the national championship,” NSU coach Scott Varner said. “We knew if we played to our potential we would have a chance to win, but we weren’t able to do that on a very difficult golf course. I was still very pleased with how the girls fought.”
NSU posted a four-round total of 138-over-par 1,290 on the Legends Course at LPGA International. The team was also the low finisher from the Central Region, beating both No. 17-ranked Central Oklahoma (10th at 1,298) and No. 25 Augustana College (11th at 1,302).
NSU took an impressive streak into nationals, as the team had finished third or better in five-straight tournaments leading up to the event.
Headlining the eighth-place effort at nationals was Kelsey Kirkpatrick. The senior was the talk of the tournament in the opening round after making a hole-in-one on the par-3, 162-yard 15th hole. That, coupled with the fact that she plays barefoot, garnered her plenty of attention.
“I never even saw it go in. We walked up to the green and I couldn't find my ball,” Kirkpatrick said. “I knew I hit it pin high, but I couldn't believe it when one of my playing partners told me she found it in the hole.
“This whole season has been an amazing experience for the team. I can’t even describe how awesome it was to be able to hit the first hole-in-one of my career in my final collegiate tournament at nationals.”
Kirkpatrick was NSU’s low finisher at nationals and was one of the team leaders all season. She was the lone member of the squad to be named to the All-MIAA First Team.
Fellow senior Whitney McAteer joined sophomore Alex Koch and freshman McCandren Lewis on the All-MIAA Second Team. Lewis was also named the MIAA Freshman of the Year.
The women’s golf program is yet another successful team at Northeastern State this season. The RiverHawks were the fifth to compete at an NCAA championship event (men’s soccer, women’s tennis, men’s golf) and the fourth to record a second-place finish in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (men’s soccer, women’s basketball, women’s tennis).