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Belles win at Hope Invitational

Anne Loughery | Wednesday, April 14, 2004

The Belles took a step in the right direction at Monday’s Hope College Invitational. A first-place finish made their dream of an NCAA championship birth that much closer. The team shot a collective score of 343, besting host Hope by three strokes. “From top to bottom, we managed quite well, especially considering the bad weather and the course. I think this is one of the most difficult golf courses we’ve played because there were lots of hazards,” coach Mark Hamilton said. Olivet followed Hope with 364 strokes, Manchester was at 366 and Albion finished last with 372. Junior Julia Adams was the medalist, firing the tournament’s best score at 82. For the season, Adams has averaged 86 shots each round. Dunham said Adam’s performance on Monday was truly representative of her golfing skills.”She went into yesterday’s tournament focused and really ready to perform up to her ability,” Dunham said. Senior captain Liz Hanlon trailed Adams closely with 85 strokes for fifth. Hamilton praised Hanlon, calling her the difference-maker for the team.”She really came up big for us, shooting 85 at the No. 4 slot,” Hamilton said. “Her performance was pretty crucial to our win. Considering the conditions she had to play in, her performance was quite commendable.”Dunham followed, shooting 87 for eighth, and junior Stefanie Simmerman finished with 89 for 12th. Although only the top four golfers were officially scored, freshman Helen Casey and sophomore Nicole Bellino further contributed to the team’s success Monday with 92 and 94 shots respectively. Casey finished 14th. The team endured chilly and blustery conditions, which were cause for higher scores. Dunham attributed the team’s ability to cope with the challenging conditions to their work ethic during practices. More recently, the Belles have focused on their short game during much of practice. “Everyone has really been putting in the time during practice this season, especially in preparation for [the Hope College Invitational]. It definitely made a difference in our games.”The Belles travel to Tri-State University April 24 to compete in their next meet. “We’ve always liked playing the course there,” Dunham said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to win and get an NCAA bid. Getting to the NCAA tournament looks like a realistic goal as long as we play well at Tri-State.”