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Belles enjoy second straight MIAA title

Joe Hettler | Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Even after a tough first nine holes, the Saint Mary’s golf team didn’t lose confidence or the conference title.

The Belles used consistent team play in the final 27 holes to fend off Albion by six strokes. Saint Mary’s also won the overall standings for the season with a team average of 341 strokes per match. It was the second straight season the Belles dominated the MIAA conference.

“We knew what we had to do,” coach Mark Hamilton said. “We played consistent and we had the most consistent scores. There were no days really low, but no days really high either.”

After day one the Belles shot 342, good enough for a seven stroke lead over Albion. Hope, Saint Mary’s stiffest competition all season, struggled to a 363. That high score all but locked up the overall season title for the Belles. So the team focused on putting away Albion on day two of the tournament.

“We weren’t so much focused on Hope as we were on Albion,” Hamilton said. “But [Hope’s] high score did take some of the pressure off.”

Stefanie Simmerman, the defending Division III national champion, finished the tournament in fifth – tied with teammate Julie Adams. Both had scores of 165. Simmerman also tied for co-medalist honors for the entire fall season with a 82.8 average. Adams was only one stroke away from tying her teammate, as she ended the fall averaging an impressive 83 strokes per round.

The championship is also positive for the entire Saint Mary’s community. The Belles have struggled in athletics for much of the last few years. But the golf team’s success, along with the success of several other sports, is beginning to put the College on the map.

“Saint Mary’s is near the pinnacle of academics; it’s always ranked high in the Midwest. And so the next logical step to increase its value in the country was athletics,” Hamilton said.

The Belles will now take some time off and begin team practice again in February. The team plans to travel to Pinehurst on spring break to face some of the best teams in the nation. Until then, Hamilton said the team will work out individually and prepare to take aim at the Division III national title next year.