lllini advance to NCAA Regional, look to make championship for second straight season

The+womens+golf+team+sits+together+as+they+wait+to+play+their+Big+Ten+Tournament.+The+team+is+now+preparing+to+play+the+NCAA+Tournament+this+Monday.

Photo Courtesy of Tristyn Nowlin's Twitter

The women’s golf team sits together as they wait to play their Big Ten Tournament. The team is now preparing to play the NCAA Tournament this Monday.

By Renato Arteaga, Staff Writer

The Illinois women’s golf team had no idea if it was advancing to the NCAA Regional tournament, as the Illini were right on the threshold. But their fate was revealed halfway through the NCAA Selection Show after eagerly waiting for four days.

The Golf Channel live-streamed the show and announced that the Illini were one of 72 teams that were advancing to the NCAA Regional. 

The Illini were selected as the 11 seed out of 18 teams and will be traveling to the Ohio State’s Scarlet Course in Columbus, Ohio to compete in the NCAA Columbus Regional from May 10-12.

This selection marks the fourth straight postseason that the Illini will be advancing to the Regional tournament. This year the Illini will be facing some tough nationally ranked teams, including No. 2 Duke, No. 7 Arizona State, No. 11 Virginia, No. 15 Kent State, No. 18 Georgia and No. 24 Vanderbilt. 

The Illini previously placed fifth at the 2019 NCAA Regional with a team score of +18, since last year’s postseason was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Senior Tristyn Nowlin and junior Crystal Wang recently received Second-Team All-Big Ten honors. They are currently averaging a 72.38 and a 73.11 stroke average, respectively, and are the Illini’s top two scoring leaders.

After the Big Ten tournament, Nowlin expressed how disappointed the team was with their tournament performance, but she praised head coach Renee Slone for getting the whole team focused on the next fight coming their way.

“I think Coach (Slone) did a really good job letting us know that if these are the goals we got to accomplish, then we have to go above and beyond,” Nowlin said. “She mentioned how she knows that we can be a championship team, but we have to do the necessary work to get where we want to be. And she’s always been good at explaining those moments and having those difficult conversations but continuing to frame it in a positive and motivating way.”

Three individual golfers and six teams from each regional tournament will advance to the NCAA Women’s Golf Championship from May 21-26 at the Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Slone, the 2019 Big Ten Coach of the Year, previously has led her team to the NCAA Championship for the first time in program history during the 2019 postseason.

Nowlin remains optimistic that her team’s previous postseason experience can help them make it a back-to-back trip.   

“I think having the importance and value of those tournaments is good prep mentally, physically, because it’s a lot of golf,” Nowlin said. “When it comes to regionals and nationals, it’s two weeks full of golf, so experiencing that pressure and mental aspects of fatigue will help us going into (this year’s) regionals.”

 

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