Team looks back on season full of great performances

Online Poster

Online Poster

By Chris Cook

The Fighting Illini women’s golf team saw its season come to an end in last weekend’s Big Ten tournament in Ann Arbor, Mich. But it was a season full of highlights, topped by the team’s home victory at the Illini Spring Classic.

“It was a good season,” sophomore Meghan Naik said. “Although we had some struggles, we also had some strides, and having a young team I think the important thing was that we learned a lot.”

Head coach Paula Smith was on the same page.

“I think we did some really good things,” she said. “Next season should be exiting.”

Throughout the season, the Illini played well as a team, gathering plenty of good results. The players thrived, all shooting career lows at one point or another.

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It started with three tournaments in the Midwest. In the Shootout at The Legends in Franklin, Ind., junior Megan Godfrey posted the first individual victory of her collegiate career shooting six over par.

In late fall and winter, the Illini found themselves traveling a lot, heading south for tournaments in California, Arizona, South Carolina and Florida.

Naik pointed out the diversity in the past season.

“We all traveled at least once,” she said. “We also learned to play in different types of weather.”

In April, the team was back in the Midwest for the Indiana Invitational. After placing twelfth on the first day, the Illini, behind Megan Godfrey’s one under par, excelled to finish seventh. Godfrey was No. 4 in the individual standings.

A week later, it was time for the Spring Classic. The Illini tied Bradley for first place on Day One, but pulled away for the victory on the following day.

Freshman Kristine Cook led a flurry of great Illini performances, finishing first in the individual standings with a score of six over par. Godfrey finished third, while Naik tied for fifth place.

Last weekend in the Big Ten tournament, the Illini played through snow to finish ninth.

The score was not enough to qualify for the Regional Championships, but the Illini chose to look ahead rather than despair.

“I’m going to practice a lot this summer,” Cook said. “Next season we should be a lot better.”

Smith also sees the team progressing in the future.

“Simply put, our goal for next year is improvement,” she said. “Every year, we strive for improvement.”

Naik agreed.

“Next season, I think we can get to the regionals because we have become much more consistent,” Naik said. “But it is important that we stay focused on the process. We can’t get ahead of ourselves.”