SMC finishes third, advances to NCAA qualifier
Benjamin Horvath | Sunday, October 12, 2014
Saint Mary’s finished third overall in the MIAA standings, concluding the six-round, three-weekend event with rounds on Friday and Saturday at the MIAA End of Season Weekend Jamboree at Bedford Valley Golf Course in Battle Creek, Michigan.
With their third-place finish, the Belles clinched a spot in this spring’s four-team NCAA qualifier, a three-round event featuring the MIAA’s top four teams.
Belles coach Kim Moore said she is excited for the opportunity to compete in the NCAA qualifier, one of the team’s aims each fall.
“We always go into the fall wanting to make sure that we’re part of those top four, so that we have the opportunity to compete and possibly represent our conference in the NCAA championship,” Moore said.
Saint Mary’s posted a 349 in Friday’s round and a 346 on Saturday. The team’s six-round aggregate score was 2059, 27 strokes behind second-placed Olivet and 119 strokes behind MIAA champion Hope.
Belles senior Janice Heffernan shot an 84 Friday and then posted a 79 for Saturday’s round, the second-best individual score for that round. Moore said Heffernan’s play is something she knows she can count on before each round.
“I knew going into this season that she’d be one of our best players, and her consistent shooting is always something that we rely on,” Moore said.
Heffernan posted the fourth-best individual score overall, scoring a 487 through six rounds, just eight strokes behind the conference champion, Hope freshman Megan Klintworth.
The Belles senior, a two-time MIAA player of the week this year, finished the season with first-team all MIAA conference honors.
“She has continuously shown herself to be one of the top players in our conference,” Moore said. “Janice definitely deserves being in that top category of our conference.”
Belles sophomore Ali Mahoney finished 10th individually, averaging a score of 85.7 over the six rounds.
Although Moore was impressed with her team’s performance in several different areas this fall, particularly the play of her freshmen and sophomores, she said there are things the team can improve upon during the winter.
“I would hope that we could improve upon our course management, but that’s definitely something that comes as players gain more experience,” Moore said. “Also, we obviously want to always be working to improve our chipping and putting.”
The Belles will compete in the four-team NCAA qualifier this upcoming April. Trine, the fourth-place finishers in the MIAA tournament, will compete against the Saint Mary’s, Hope and Olivet for an NCAA championship bid.
Moore said it is difficult to have to wait all winter to compete again, but the break will allow the team the opportunity to improve.
“We just have keep working on those things that we can during the winter and then look forward to getting right back into it in a few months,” Moore said.