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Belles head to Olivet course

Mike Gotimer | Thursday, September 4, 2008

After a promising performance at the Ferris State Bulldog Invitational this past weekend, Saint Mary’s opens conference play on Thursday at the Medalist Golf Course in Marshall, Mich., the home track of Olivet College, the defending MIAA champions.

Entering the match, the Belles believe that they are ready to compete on a national level.

“We are looking forward to our first MIAA conference match,” Belles coach Mark Hamilton said. “The ladies are anxious to show the country what they can do when healthy and firing on all cylinders.”

Health was a concern for the Belles last weekend, as some upperclassmen did not compete because of injuries. As a result, three freshmen started at the Bulldog Invitational. Despite their inexperience, freshmen Natalie Matuszak, Kailey Jacob, and Christine Brown all contributed to the Belles’ strong effort.

Mastuzak had the lowest score of any Div. III player in the field, Jacob contributed an 83 on the first day, and Brown matched Jacob with an 83 out of the No. 4 spot on the second day.

Hamilton said he is proud of his freshmen both on and off the course.

“They have been making great progress in practice while learning how to balance golf with academics,” Hamilton said. “I am very proud of how they have responded thus far.”

The Belles will still be without one player on Thursday while playing in their first MIAA match since the graduation of 2007 MIAA Most Valuable Golfer Katie O’Brien. However, Hamilton said the team will still put forth a strong effort.

“We will still be down a player, but I expect our two upperclassmen to play solidly and for three freshmen to step in and fill the void,” Hamilton said.

Thursday marks the first time the freshmen will compete at the Medalist Golf Course, but Hamilton has few doubts that their play will be limited by their inexperience.

“We will be playing them on their home course, and we will be playing with three players that have not seen the course,” Hamilton said. “But I know the young players will rise to the occasion and perform well.”

Play begins at the Medalist Golf Course at 1 p.m. on Thursday. The match is the first of four 18-hole jamborees that will help determine the 2008 MIAA champion.