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Hanlon earns career-best score, Belles finish first

Ann Loughery | Monday, April 26, 2004

For senior Liz Hanlon, the Tri-State Invitational was a near fairy-tale ending to the season.

Saint Mary’s took first place in the tournament with a collective 325 strokes as a team, besting their closest competitor, Machester, by 25 strokes. Further, Hanlon fired a career-best score of 79. This season, Hanlon averaged close an 88 each round.

Coach Mark Hamilton said he couldn’t have asked for a better end to the regular season for Hanlon.

“[Breaking 80 strokes] is hard enough to do when you’re out playing with friends. Playing under pressure is an even bigger feat,” Hamilton said. “She’s come a long way and is as good of a player as anyone in the country. She’ll give anyone a run for their money.”

But for a truly happy ending to this story, Hanlon would like to see the Belles win a spot in the NCAA Tournament. They’ll find out May 3 if they are one of the 10 teams in the Division III tournament.

“Getting to the NCAA Tournament means everything to our team,” Hanlon said. “We went last year and we want people to realize that we’ll keep coming back. Last year wasn’t just a stroke of luck. We have to prove our staying power.”

The Belles’ scores speak for themselves. Junior Julia Adams shot a 78, junior Stefanie Simmerman posted an 80, junior Chrissy Dunham followed with an 88, sophomore Nicole Bellino registered a 92 and freshman Helen Casey rounded out the Belles’ success with a 94. Each of the Belles recorded scores below their season scoring average. Hanlon attributed their stellar performance to focusing on individual aspects of their games in practice.

“It’s the little things that have been making a difference. We put so many hours in during practice and things really come together for us at meets,” Hanlon said.

Hamilton said he hopes this weekend’s performance is enough to spur the Belles on to a NCAA Tournament berth. The NCAA Championships will take place in Green Lake, Wis. May 11-14.