Missouri State’s women’s golf team is walking into the 2017-18 season with the mentality of “maintain and improve.”
Last year, the players shocked almost everybody, including their coach, when they pulled off the upset to win Missouri Valley Conference championship.
“If I said I saw it coming, I’d be lying,” head coach Kevin Kane said. “The season couldn’t have ended any better.”
Coming off the championship win, the team has some changes to work around, if it wants to win again. At the end of this season, the team lost its three seniors: Caroline Boone, Lindsey Eisenreich and Kiersten Prater.
Kane is excited for the upcoming year, for a plethora of reasons. Senior leadership is slim with only two seniors, Stine Pettersen and Verena Gimmy, on the roster. That being said, Kane has confidence in their leadership abilities.
“(They) both have a strong work ethic, and that’s all you can ask for,” Kane said.
With that in mind, the underclassmen of the team are a powerhouse of their own. Leading the pack are returning juniors Ashley Childers and Rachel Johnson.
Childers maintained an average of 79.09 with her lowest round being 73. Her highest placement in a tournament came during the MVC Championship, where she tied for 11th.
Johnson, who has a slightly lower average of 77.64 and a low of 70, came in ninth place in the Missouri State Tournament.
Where some coaches would be weary of having a young team, Kane welcomes it.
“Most of the underclassmen (are motivated) and that’s more important (than leadership),” Kane said.
The team is welcoming in three freshmen this year, and Kane believes he has found the secret to recruiting.
“We have tapped into the international scene, and so far, it’s paying off,” Kane said.
The team currently has two international students, Stine Pettersen from Norway and Verena Gimmy from Germany. Three international golfers are being added this fall as well.
The women’s golf team’s main goal this season is to retake the Valley. Last year, its biggest competition, both in regular season and in the championship, was Wichita State.
With Wichita State’s exit from the conference, that is one less hurdle for the team to jump over.
Going into this season, MSU is in a very unique spot in its conference. Based on how last season ended in the Valley, it is hard to tell which schools are going to step up to challenge the Bears.
MSU was the only school to have three or more golfers place in the top 15 in the conference tournament. Furthermore, out of the top three finishers in the tournament, the only one to return in 2017-18 is Missouri State’s Verena Gimmy.