Women’s golf team places first at Saturday’s invitational
The Falcon women’s golf team won its first meet of the season, placing first in the Falcon Invitational on Saturday.
The young team finished at the top of the leaderboard with a score of 349, the sum of its five top individual golfers’ performances. UW-Superior came in second with 402, while Northwestern didn’t have enough individuals to post a final score.
Paige Isensee led the way for the Falcons, posting a career-low round of 82 on two birdies and five pars. Isensee said the work the team has put in during the offseason is already beginning to show on the course.
“We all have been hitting the ball further, and working in the weight room with [Carmen] Pata has helped. I’ve personally gained 40 yards in my drive, and that strength has helped us in our iron work,” Isensee said.
Nikki Frederickson finished second for UW-River Falls with a round of 88, including six pars. She said she thought the course itself was a big factor in the Falcon’s accomplishments on Saturday.
“Playing our home course helped us come in with a bit of confidence. Being familiar with it helps a lot by starting out confident and to know where to expect the hole to go,” Frederickson said.
Head Coach Lance Westberg was also impressed with the team’s performance in its first home meet of the spring season.
“They’ve been pretty dedicated throughout this spring and have battled weather conditions. The course was in really good shape [on Saturday] and we had beautiful conditions. They played confident, which was good to see,” Westberg said.
The team is extremely young, with five freshmen, two sophomores and one junior. One of the sophomores, Kayla Oberding, has been with the team for less than two weeks after joining from the hockey team. She still managed to put up the third best score of the day with a round of 89.
“Every course we’re seeing for the first time. It’s exciting because I don’t think anybody reaches their peak as a freshman and sophomore. It’s on them to continue to work and play as much as they possibly can and continue to get closer as a team. Good things will come from that,” Westberg said.
Frederickson also said that being such a young team isn’t necessarily a negative situation.
“It’s been a great learning experience for us and can lead us all towards getting better and better as the years go on. It’s a little challenging without upperclassmen, but it’s a good challenge for us to overcome and become stronger players,” Frederickson said.
Isensee and Frederickson both have physical goals for the team to work out of the sand better and improve its short games of chipping and putting, but the game of golf is much more complicated than that.
“For our girls, it’s realizing that golf is an 18-hole game and you start fresh every hole, so it’s more of a marathon than a sprint. Mentally being able to endure a setback is big for us, and putting together a complete round is something we’re still chasing,” Westberg said.
Isensee made use of a different mental strategy to achieve her best score to date on Saturday.
“I just really focused on one shot at a time. Last weekend we had match play, and when you’re in match play, you focus on one shot at a time. I kept that mentality and brought it over to last weekend and it really helped. I didn’t even look at my scorecard or add it until the end,” Isensee said.
Even with the great strides made by the young team, Isensee said she still sees room for improvement individually and within the team.
“I hope to break into the 70s in competition and keep dropping my scores. We want to break 350 [as a team] and we only did that once in the fall. If we continue to break that, we could see a couple of wins and come into the next season strong,” Isensee said.
The Falcons will close out their spring season with meets in Eau Claire and Stevens Point on Thursday and Saturday. Westberg also hopes these final meets can pay dividends for the more-competitive fall season.
“Saturday we go to Stevens Point and it’s a course they saw in the fall. It was one of our worst scores in the fall season, so I hope they use that experience to build on our experience from the fall and have a better spring there,” Westberg said.