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SMC Golf: 1st place not focus at conference meet

Jared Jedick | Friday, October 5, 2007

Saint Mary’s travels to Bedford Valley Golf Club in Battle Creek, Mich., today to begin the two-day MIAA Championship. The team tees off in the first round today at 1 p.m. and the second round at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Saint Mary’s is in second place in the MIAA standings after the three conference Jamborees with 1,029 total strokes – 41 strokes behind first place Olivet with 988 strokes.

Making up the deficit will be a tall order for the Belles, and coach Mark Hamilton wants the team not to focus on trying to catch up with Olivet.

“Our goal is to win the two-day tournament, that is it,” Hamilton said. “We would like to maintain our second-place position in the conference, because then we will be able to host a qualifying tournament next year.”

The team is coming off a lackluster showing at the third Jamboree of the year at Buck Run Golf Course, in which it watched its then-14 stroke deficit stretch almost out of reach.

“It was a little disappointing. We started off well, but we definitely ended badly. We had a couple big scores that cost us,” Hamilton said.

Senior Katie O’Brien hopes to continue her strong play up to this point in the season and lead her teammates to a win this weekend. She owns two of the best rounds in MIAA play this year with a 76 and a 78. She finished sixth at Buk Run with an 84.

Also providing veteran leadership will be junior Meredith Fantom, who had the second-best round for the Belles at Buck Run with an 85.

The team’s biggest surprose has been the substantial contribution being made for this team by freshmen Emily Gore, Megan Lehr, Rosie O’Connor, Michelle Hird and Amanda Mainstone.

Saint Mary’s ranks first in the Division III NCAA/NAIA/JC Women’s Freshman Class Impact Rankings, with an average freshman score 88.15. The Belles have four freshmen in their top five players.

Hamilton would like this weekend to be the tournament where his players come of age and excel.

“We would like to play well, to play to our potential. I think the girls are anxious to show their potential,” Hamilton said.