By CEDRIQUE FLEMMING
The Northeastern State women’s golf team is set to head to the Sunshine State for the 2013 NCAA Division II Women’s Golf Championship.
The RiverHawks will compete against 11 other schools for a national championship at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla. The tournament begins Wednesday and will last four days.
“If we can play with confidence, while managing our games and our emotions, we can compete and win this thing,” NSU coach Scott Varner said. “The physical talent is there, we just need to have our minds right.”
The team’s minds will be clearer now that finals are out of the way and school is out of session for the summer.
“I’m hoping the girls will have a singular focus now that school and graduation is behind us,” Varner said. “Golf is the ultimate head game, and I know we have a chance to do something special this week if we can put it all together.”
The only person on the current squad to experience a trip to nationals is senior Whitney McAteer, who competed as an individual her sophomore year. Northeastern State, however, has made its living at the national finals. The team has advanced to the national championship event seven times since 2000, and this will be the first trip since 2007.
NSU’s best finish came in 2000, when the squad finished third.
“This is nothing new to us. Our expectations are to reach this stage every year, and I’m happy we were able to perform like I know we can on the golf course,” Varner said. “I’m especially glad that our two seniors will get the chance to experience playing in the national championship event.”
Northeastern State earned its spot in the 12-team field by finishing third at the 2013 NCAA Central Super Regional Championship. The RiverHawks have placed in the top three in each of its last five events, which includes a second-place finish at the 2013 MIAA Championship.
The five who will be attempting to bring home a national championship are McAteer, senior Kelsey Kirkpatrick, sophomore Alex Koch, and freshmen McCandren Lewis and Kayla Schroeder.
Kirkpatrick earned a spot on the 2013 All-MIAA First Team this season, while McAteer, Koch and Lewis were all named to the All-MIAA Second Team. Lewis was also honored as the 2013 MIAA Freshman of the Year.
NCAA tournament field
Teams: Northeastern State, Ashland, Augustana (S.D.), Barry, California (Pa.), Central Oklahoma, Grand Canyon, Indianapolis, Lynn, Nova Southeastern, St. Edward’s, Tarleton State.
Individuals: Rebecka Surtevall (Ark. Tech), Ashlynn Hall (Southwestern Oklahoma State), Emily Plyler (Harding), Kasey Frazier (Wheeling Jesuit), Ali Reed (Merrimack), Shweta Galande (Missouri-St. Louis), Annie Dulman (Rollins), Teresa Hernani (Lander), Kristen Sammarco (Armstrong Atlantic), Spencer Heller (Sonoma State), Hee-Leina Kim (Colo. St-Pueblo), Mercedes Rios (Dallas Baptist).
* Tee times and pairings will be released at a later date.