Belles take aim at MIAA title, NCAA qualifier
Manuel De Jesus | Thursday, August 28, 2014
Saint Mary’s will make a push for the MIAA conference title this year after finishing second in last season’s MIAA NCAA championship qualifying rounds.
The Belles also finished in second place in the MIAA during the fall season behind Olivet. They averaged 335.4 strokes per round in the fall and 340.7 strokes in the NCAA qualifying rounds. With Kimberly Moore going into her second season as head coach, Saint Mary’s has already set winning the MIAA conference title as their primary goal, senior Janice Heffernan said.
Heffernan, the squad’s lone senior, along with junior Katie Zielinski and sophomores Ali Mahoney, Courtney Carlson and Rachel Kim will lead the team this season as the returning players for the Belles. Mahoney, Heffernan, and Zielinski led the squad with the top-three lowest averages from last fall. Each golfer shot under 90 strokes per invitational.
Heffernan said she will have much more responsibility placed on her this season as the Belles’ oldest player.
“Being the only senior on the team forces me to take on a larger leadership role,” Heffernan said. “It would’ve been nice to have someone else in my class on the team but I love all of my teammates. The team is very young with only one senior and one junior so it’s important to set a good example for the other players.”
Heffernan was only one of six golfers in the MIAA to win the WGCA All-American Scholar award, which means she was able to compete in at least 12 rounds while posting below a 95 score average, while maintaining at least a 3.5 cumulative grade point average over the course of her collegiate academic career. It was the third time in her career that she had earned the honor.
“I like to lead by example so that means practicing hard each day but also maintaining my academic goals,” Heffernan said. “I put a lot of time into golf but academic performance is also important to me.”
In addition to holding herself to high expectations off the golf course, Heffernan said she expects nothing less than a conference championship this season along with the MIAA NCAA qualifier in the spring.
“My goal for our team is to win conference this fall and then win the MIAA NCAA qualifier in the spring,” Heffernan said. “I think we have a very good chance of accomplishing those goals. We have to work hard the next few weeks before MIAA Conference tournaments begin but I am optimistic about this season.”
To accomplish this ambition, the Belles will have to contend with Olivet, who is coming off its third MIAA conference championship in a row. Regardless of the tough competition, Heffernan said she is optimistic about her team’s potential this year.
“I want to focus on lowering my average and our team’s average,” Heffernan said. “Since it is my senior year, I want to finish up playing the best golf of all four years. However, golf isn’t an individual sport so we really need five consistent players at every tournament. I think if we really work hard and maintain focus we will have a successful season.”
The Belles will get their chance to start off on the right foot this weekend at the Olivet Labor Day Tournament in Olivet, Mich.