After a strong finish to the spring season last year, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point women’s golf team looked to be on the right track for the start of the 2012 fall season.
That outlook became skewed this summer when the team found out that junior Mary Welch, a National Golf Coaches Association All-American, had transferred to a Division I college, Ball State.
Even with the loss of one of the school’s best golfers in its history, the team has stayed together and given great effort during the season.
“The season so far has been tough with Mary Welch transferring and leaving us with only four girls,” said head coach Melissa Martin. “The girls are doing great, though, as a team of four.”
Usually, a team gets five players to play in each tournament, with the top four members of each team contributing to the score.
With only four players, everyone has to be at the top of their game every tournament. “It does put us at a disadvantage not having a fifth player to use a score from,” Martin said.
The members of the fall squad are seniors Olivia Schiefelbein and Kayla Johnson, junior McKenna Prestigiacomo, and freshman Natalie Halverson.
“They are practicing hard, and we have definitely seen improvement in scores from when we first started this fall,” Martin said.
The team has gotten more competitive as the season continued. This trend was on display in the last two tournaments of the fall season, the UWSP Mad Dawg Invite and the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship.
In the team’s first three tournaments, they averaged a team total of 380 strokes per day. In the final two events the Pointers participated in, they tallied an average of 374.
The uninitiated may look at a difference of six strokes as a miniscule improvement, but in golf six strokes is quite the margin.
Compare that to the WIAC final this season. The difference between first place University of Wisconsin- Stout and third place University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire was only two strokes.
A bright spot for Stevens Point this season has been their new leader on the course, McKenna Prestigiacomo.
Prestigiacomo had the lowest score for the Pointers in each event and capped the season with a fifth place finish at the WIAC Championship.
With the fall season now in the books, the team has to look forward to the spring season, which they will play without senior Kayla Johnson, who graduates at the end of this semester.
Now with two spots open on the roster, Coach Martin knows that she has plenty of work ahead of her, but she is excited about the new talent she has been looking at.
“I have been meeting with lots of new recruits for next year, so I’m really excited about the new additions we will have to the team,” said Martin.
The Pointers begin the spring season by going south for a tournament, Martin explained, and finish the season with three tournaments in April and May.