Illini lose majority of spring season
March 18, 2020
The cancellation of all spring sports due to the outbreak of COVID-19 came suddenly to all athletes and teams and will affect each group of competitors differently. For the Illini women’s golf team, it will hit them negatively in multiple ways. Despite an extra year of eligibility being granted to spring athletes, it is unclear how much that rule will help this team.
The Illini have just one senior: Tristyn Nowlin. Despite only losing one golfer, that specific athlete happens to be one of the most impactful golfers for the Illini, being the unofficial team captain and performing at the top of the team in each of their invitationals. Although an extra year of eligibility will be granted, this doesn’t guarantee a return for the senior. Nowlin does have plans to pursue a professional career in golf. This could lead Nowlin to forego her final year of eligibility and start making money by golfing at the professional level.
Although the Illini have a very talented team outside Nowlin, including multiple highly-skilled underclassmen, it still hurts to lose a consistent leader and golfer. Despite a slow start to their spring season, the Illini were a talented team that finished strong in the fall. Multiple third-place finishes in very competitive invitationals is something the team accomplished in the fall, foreshadowing a strong spring season. It is a big blow to a team to potentially have a very successful season and not get the chance to achieve success, especially with a top golfer possibly leaving.
Not golfing in the spring will not be beneficial for anyone, but luckily for the Illini, their success should continue in the fall. Kornkamol Sukaree, Crystal Wang and Siyan Chen are three of the team’s best underclassmen, each earning accolades both before or during their college careers. The team is in good hands for the future despite not getting a chance to have a spring season this year.
The Illini’s last tournament before the cancelations occurred highlighted the program’s future. Sophomores Wang and Sukaree tied with Nowlin for 14th place at the Hurrican Invitational on March 3. The group helped the Illini tie for fifth at the invitational, the team’s highest placement of the spring.
To focus on the positives, the Illini are still a solid team that will return seven out of their eight golfers in the fall. The team also has great facilities and a proven coach in Renee Slone, so recruiting should still be strong for the team which will keep them competitive for years to come.
Because the virus is affecting all teams and athletes across the country, so the Illini aren’t missing on any competitions currently occurring. This extended offseason can prepare next year’s team for an even better fall season, which is already hopeful for the Illini.
A probable loss of their top golfer and the loss of their very hopeful season are the biggest effects of the coronavirus to the Illini women’s golf team, a spring season that had everyone excited.