Ladies hang on to take 3rd place at McKendree

| Sports Reporter

Freshman Hannah Buck fired a 6-over 78 in the second round of the McKendree Spring Invitational, her best round of the spring, for a 160 total. Buck also took home medalist honors, while the No. 13 Washington University women’s golf team took third overall.

Wash. U., the only school from the NCAA, trailed Rend Lake College by just one stroke after the first round, despite a sluggish 343. Highlighting Friday’s round was freshman Melanie Walsh, who carded an 80 to put herself in a tie for third place.

The Bears came out flat again on Saturday, shooting a 347. Walsh fell to seventh place after carding an 87. Senior Kris Zeschin managed to shave a stroke over her day one 91 but was still two strokes above her season average, and sophomore Katie Homa added two strokes to her opening-round 90. Junior Kate Pettinato, whose first-round 97 did not count toward the team score, fired a 92 the second time around.

“Whenever you play multiple days, you always want to improve on your day one score and I think we understand that,” head coach Sean Curtis said. “I know we’re not entirely satisfied, but we did our best, and I saw a lot of good things out there. Everyone is really putting forward the effort right now.”

Celebration of Buck’s personal success was muddled by the overall team performance.

“It’s definitely harder to celebrate [the medal] when I know the team can’t celebrate also,” said Buck, who attributed her best score of the spring to playing less defensively.

Sophomore Sarah Miller (91-89, 180), who tied for 20th playing as an individual, stood as another positive for the Red and Green. Her second-round 89 marked the second time in the past two tournaments she has broken 90, an achievement she reached only twice last season.

Seniors Elizabeth Pfohl (102-99, 201), Danielle Prague (105-97, 202) and Claire Glasspiegel (105-101, 206) also played as individuals.

The Red and Green rode a fall team-round average of 323 to No. 5 in the coaches’ poll, but have broken 330 only once this spring and have slipped to No. 13 as of March 31.

There are eight at-large bids available for the NCAA championship. Twelve-time defending champion Methodist University is almost guaranteed one of those bids. No. 12 Allegheny, an independent, is another likely recipient, and there are several others near the top of the polls that come from the same conference, meaning they should claim a few more at-large bids.

Wash. U. is still very much in contention, however, and the Bears have one more shot to prove themselves this weekend at the Illinois Wesleyan University Spring Fling held at Ironwood Golf Course in Normal, Ill.

Curtis emphasized, though, that the key would be for the team to be concerned only with its own performance.

“We need to go out there and take care of our own business,” he said. “If we can do that, we’re going to do well.”

Wash. U. beat a very competitive field at the invitational’s fall counterpart in September.

“We’re just going to go out and play the best we can at this point,” Buck said. “We really have nothing to lose…Hopefully going back [to Ironwood] will give us some extra confidence to do that.”