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Golf team aims for continued success in WIAC

October 3, 2013

Senior Paige Cook gets ready for a putt on hole No. 1 at the River Falls Golf Course. Cook is golfing the No. 3 spot on the team, averaging a 92.22 so far this season.
Senior Paige Cook gets ready for a putt on hole No. 1 at the River Falls Golf Course. Cook is golfing the No. 3 spot on the team, averaging a 92.22 so far this season. (Photo by Kathy Helgeson, University Communications)

The UW-River Falls women’s golf team is set to finish its fall season at the WIAC tournament, which runs from Oct. 4-6.

Meets will conclude for the fall season following the WIAC tournament. The team will pick up its season again in the spring.

“It’s called traditional and non-traditional. Our traditional season is in the fall, which is happening right now,” said Head Golf Coach Matthew Cranston. “Spring is a about a third of the fall. The fall is the one that really counts.”

The team starts the fall season around the Labor Day weekend and continues for eight weeks until the conference tournament. The national tournament takes place from May 13-16, in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla., according to the NCAA website.

Alex Zeuli hits a shot off of the fairway. She is the team’s No. 2 golfer, averaging a 90.22 this season.
Alex Zeuli hits a shot off of the fairway. She is the team’s No. 2 golfer, averaging a 90.22 this season. (Photo by Kathy Helgeson, University Communications)

According to Cranston, the team which wins the WIAC tournament will get an automatic bid to the national tournament. However, it is possible for individual golfers to get a bid to the national tournament without the team going.

“As an individual, they only take a few out of the entire region. You would have to shoot incredibly low the entire season, both this fall and next season in the spring,” Cranston said.

Cranston added that a golfer would probably have to shoot an average of 76, or below, for the entire fall and spring season to have a shot at qualifying. The team’s top golfer so far this season, sophomore Gillian McDonald is averaging an 83.5 during the fall season.

This season, the team features a very young group. Seven of the eight golfers are underclassmen. Senior Paige Cook is the only upperclassmen on the team, which comes with trials and tribulations.

“It’s a lot of work, because you have to be the one to set the good example,” Cook said. “The underclassmen over take you sometimes so it’s frustrating, but its all right.”

Cook was the team’s No. 3 golfer at it’s last tournament in Stevens Point.
With a strong, core group of golfers, Cranston said that the program is close to being able to capture a WIAC championship, something which the Falcons have never accomplished. The team has been improving, and continues to improve, under Cranston’s watch.

“They really get better faster,” Cranston said. “Last year we finished fourth in the conference. I think, when I came here four years ago we were last place. So we’ve slowly moved up to fourth. It’s [the top three] going to be tough to crack, but we’re shooting to be as good as we were last year or better.”

The teams which finished ahead of the Falcons last year were UW-Stout, UW-Eau Clare and UW-Whitewater. Stout will be looking for it’s second straight WIAC crown and Eau Clare is ranked No. 23 in the country, according to the NCAA. The Falcons defeated Whitewater at the Stevens Point tournament last weekend.

To win the WIAC tournament a team must have the lowest score after 54 holes of golf. The tournament runs for three days, beginning at noon on Friday, Oct. 4, and ending on Sunday, Oct. 6 and is being held at the Lake Arrowhead Golf Course in Nekoosa, Wis., just south of Wisconsin Rapids.