April 2, 2010

By Andrew Mitchell
Special to NCAA.com

Grand Valley State Gets Back to Winning Ways

No. 3 Grand Valley State University showed why it was ranked No. 1 earlier in the season and is currently one of the elite programs in the nation, dominating a field that included four top-25 teams by 27 strokes with a team score of 22-over-par (598) Mar. 29 and 30 at the 2nd annual Barry Bucs Invitational.

Winning its first tournament of the spring and fifth as a team this season, all five Grand Valley State golfers finished in the top-ten in individual scoring.  Sophomore Sarah Hoffman paced the Lakers at one-over-par (145), taking home the individual title for the Invitational.  Seniors Ashley Smith and Caitlin Bennett finished third and sixth, respectively, junior Allie Tyler ended in ninth and freshman Ashley Beard rounded out the winning effort tied for tenth place.

No. 15 Lynn University had the two best rounds of any team not named Grand Valley State, but finished at a distant 49-over (625).  Two Lynn golfers finished in the top-five, with Maha Haddioui, who was tied for individual lead going into the last round, but ended at second at three-over (147) and Thalia Baigorria at fifth with a score of eight-over (152).

The only other top-ten team in the tournament, host No. 7 Barry University, finished with the bronze in the tournament at a score of 58-over (633).  All five Barry golfers finished in the top-16, with junior Isadora Stapff leading the Bucs tying for third place at five-over (149).

Other top-25 teams in the event included No. 24 California University-Pennsylvania, who captured fourth place at 68-over (644), and No. 22 University of West Florida that finished as the only nationally-ranked team outside the top-five in the event at sixth with a score of 86-over-par (662).

Rollins Rises to Number One in the Rankings

Rollins University, winners of five of the last seven Division-II national championships, found itself in familiar territory when the Tars woke up Wednesday morning to the new Golf World/NGCA Coaches’ poll—No. 1.  

Still yet to finish outside of the top three teams in any tournament they have participated in this season, the Tars made the jump past division rival Nova Southeastern University and also Grand Valley State University to claim the top spot in nation in the Mar. 31 poll.

Nova Southeastern gave up the No. 1 crown but still garnered the most first-place votes (5) in the poll to rank second in the nation.  The Sharks finished just one point behind Rollins in total points.  Grand Valley State University stayed in the top three at third.

Seven of the top-ten teams remained the same, but University of Nebraska-Omaha took the largest fall of any ranked team, dropping 11 spots from No. 9 to No. 20.  St. Edward’s University moved past Newberry College as the two schools swapped No. 10 and No. 11 in the nation, and Ashland University fell nine spots from No. 7 to No. 16.  

Two schools to reach the top ten for the first time this spring were California State University-Monterey Bay, who had the highest jump of any team climbing 11 spots in the rankings to No. 8, and Western Washington University who rose from 13th to ninth.

Northeastern State University and West Texas A&M were the only unranked teams in the last national poll to make the jump into the top-25, tying for 25th place in the latest poll.  

Nova Southeastern Finish Season Strong with Sixth Win

In the final tournament of the regular season before the Sunshine State Conference Championships, Nova Southeastern University took home the Hoya Invitational title for a second straight year with a score of 36-over (612) as a team on Mar. 29 and 30.

The Sharks had no idea they would fall to No. 2 in the national rankings while playing in the Invitational, but played like a team trying to make a strong case to reclaim the No. 1 spot with their sixth team win on the year.  

National Player of the Year favorite Sandra Changkija led Nova Southeastern, who finished as the only player with a sub-par score at one-under (143) to grab her fifth individual title of the season.  Changkija did not shoot a round over par and posted the two best round scores for any golfer at the tournament.  Changkija remains in fifth place in the Golfstat Cup, which ranks the best golfer on any collegiate level.

Senior Maria Gacia Austt finished third with a score of seven-over (151), eight strokes off Changkija’s pace.  Junior Nicole Whitmore was the only other Shark to finish in the top-15 individually in a tie for 12th at 14-over (158).

No. 1 Rollins University finished far from the leader in a tie for third at 59-over-par (635).  Rollins junior Joanna Coe continued her streak of finishing in the top ten in every tournament this season, closing the event tied for fourth place at 9-over (153).  Coe was the only Tar to finish in the top-ten, but junior Brianna Seo finished 11th at a score of 13-over (157).

Drury University Remains Undefeated in Spring Season

Notching their second win in as many tournaments this spring, No. 14 Drury University cruised to a 20-stroke victory with a combined score of 95-over-par (687) at the Bulldog Classic Mar. 27 and 28.

Drury junior Katrina Choate grabbed individual honors for the tournament, beating out host Truman State University’s senior Krystal Limsiaco in a one-hole playoff.  Choate shot the lowest round of the tournament with a score of 80 in the final round to force the playoff.

Choate paced the Panthers with a total score of 17-over (165), and Drury had all five of their golfers place in the top-ten in individual scoring.