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SMC GOLF: Belles look to finish strong

Joe Meixell | Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Belles are back in town after their spring break trip to Pinehurst, N.C.

The trip allowed the team to get its first swings of the new season. It also allowed the players to walk the course of the NCAA national championship. The team is very optimistic as it goes into the new season with a firm idea of where it is coming from and where it wants to go.

Under the guidance of second-year coach Mark Hamilton and with returning roster of full of talent and experience, the Belles look to continue on the path they laid in the fall.

“We all worked hard and played well in the fall, and [we] see the spring as a continuation of that, as well as an opportunity to really push ourselves and prove we belong among the elite in women’s Division III golf,” captain Chrissy Dunham said.?

Hamilton has helped SMC golf to rise from relative mediocrity to near the top of Division III women’s golf. The team finished eighth in NCAA in the fall and fourth last spring. The team is grateful for the improvement and has not forgotten its hard work.

“Through hard work, great coaching and dedication, you can achieve anything,” Dunham said. “We took a program that had never won a conference tournament to the NCAA National Tournament in a year.”

The team is returning to the course after a fall season marked by both team and individual success. The roster of the No. 3 Belles boasts three first-team all-MIAA golfers in Dunham, Julia Adams and Stefanie Simmerman, as well as two second team all-MIAA golfers in Nicole Bellino and Megan Mattia.

“Our success in the past has given us confidence in our ability to be successful as a team, but we also realize that we need to keep working on our games in order to keep reaching the goals that we have set for ourselves,” said Julia Adams.

The team forged its character from both the climb in the national rankings and a solid core of returning players from year to year.

“Besides being teammates, we’re all very good friends and support each other on and off the course,” Simmerman said.

The team is pleased with its growing recognition and its past success, but it is not satisfied. For the seniors, this is one last opportunity to make a final run at the national championship. They remain focused both on that goal and on the present.

“We need to stay focused for the entire 18 or 36 holes,” Simmerman said. “We have to remember that every shot counts, and that if we do have a bad shot, on next hole to look past that and think of how to come back and finish strong.”

The team benefits from a multitude of veterans, including seniors Simmerman, Dunham, and Adams, who have been on the varsity squad all four years. The wealth of upperclassmen will benefit the team with not only experience but also perspective.

The Belles hope to leave their mark individually and collectively on the course, as well as to leave a legacy for their community.

“We’ve watched the team come from a mediocre squad to one that is ranked third in the nation,” Simmerman said. “We’ve helped build up a great reputation for SMC Golf, and I hope that we’re passing that dedication on to our underclasswomen.”

The path to Pinehurst starts with a tournament April 1 and 2 in Columbus, Ohio.