Illini finish season strong at Landfall Tradition

Sophomore+Reena+Sulkar+swings+at+the+Illini+Women%E2%80%99s+Invitational.+The+home+invitational+took+place+in+Medinah%2C+Illinois%2C+on+Oct.+9.%0A

Photo Courtesy of illini athletics

Sophomore Reena Sulkar swings at the Illini Women’s Invitational. The home invitational took place in Medinah, Illinois, on Oct. 9.

By Josh Pietsch, Staff Writer

The Illini traveled to Wilmington, North Carolina, last weekend for the final competition of their fall season at the Landfall Tradition. The invite was hosted by the University of North Carolina Wilmington Oct. 25-27, and Illinois placed third out of 18 competing teams. 

The women got the week before the invite off, which gave them extra time to prepare for the competition. Head coach Renee Slone said the team took advantage of its week off, doing so off of the golf course.

“I think (off-weeks) can serve multiple purposes,” Slone said. “Giving us time to really hone in on some different aspects of the game. But then also giving team members a chance to kinda catch their breath and recharge their batteries and catch up with academics and get that all squared away, which a lot of times is the most important thing.”

The week off worked in Illinois’ favor, as the team finished the first round tied for first place with Alabama at 285 each. Siyan Chen was the top scorer for the Illini and was tied for second individually in the tournament, shooting a 69 in the round. Virginia was one stroke behind in third, and Florida State and South Carolina rounded out the top five in team rankings, tying for fourth at the end of the round.

Despite a fast start to the tournament and great course conditions, the Illini couldn’t hold onto their first-place ranking in the second round. Illinois shot a collective 296 and fell down into tied for fourth place with Oklahoma State. A hot start followed by a worse second round is not a new experience for the Illini, which is something they look to work on over the offseason.

“(The second round) will definitely be a topic of conversation,” Slone said. “It is definitely worth looking into and figuring out if there are some things that can be done to grow and develop in that particular area.”

The third round was an improvement from the second for the Illini, moving up to finish the invite tied for third place, shooting a 288 in the round and 869 in the day. Senior Trystin Nowlin shot a team-best 68 in the third round, moving her up to finish tied for sixth individually. South Carolina got better throughout the tournament and finished first in the team rankings, winning by five strokes. Alabama was the runner-up, Oklahoma tied for third with Illinois and Florida State rounded out the top five in fifth.

Tied for third out of 18 teams is the best team finish for the Illini so far, and ending the fall season on a positive note was something the team hoped for. The women have over three months off until their next competition, which gives them plenty of time to work on things over the offseason.

“Some of them are course-related, but a lot of it’s off-course related,” Slone said. “I feel like we’re truly just scratching the surface of what we’re capable of. We’ve got a number of things to work on in the next couple of weeks to get us ready for an even better spring season.”

The Illini will not compete again until February when they head south for the UCF Challenge. The tournament will be hosted by the University of Central Florida and will be held Feb. 2-4.

@Jpietsch14