ALLENDALE, Mich. -- Chanice Young had to get some help hoisting the large wooden trophy above her head on Saturday. It’s quite a task for the smallest player on the Indianapolis golf team.
“It’s really heavy,” said Young, who stands 5-foot even. “It covers half my body. But it’s a great feeling hold that thing.”
Young and her four Greyhounds teammates captured the 2015 NCAA Division II women’s golf national championship on Saturday at The Meadows golf course on the campus of Grand Valley State University in West Michigan.
“I honestly can’t believe this just happened. I’m so proud of them,” UIndy coach Brent Nicoson said. “They deserve to feel something like this. It feels great for me too, but for as much hard work as they put in for us … I couldn’t be happier.”
Indianapolis finished with 1,212 strokes to win by a mere five strokes against Rollins (1,217). Lynn, which won the past two national titles, finished third with 1,225 strokes. Tarleton State was fourth (1,245) and Nova Southeastern was fifth (1,246).
Young was the Greyhounds top golfer with a four-day total of 302 strokes to tie for fifth place. She was followed by Brooke Beagle (7th, 303), Annika Haynes (16th, 308), Paxton DeHaven (20th, 309) and Molly Ward (55th, 326).
Moore wins individual title
Brenna Moore, a senior from Midwestern State, won the individual championship after shooting a final-round 76 to finish two strokes ahead of Rollins’ Madison Lellyo. Moore’s scores for the tournament were 74-73-74-76-297, which was 9-over par. Lellyo shot a final-round 73 to finished at 299. Lynn’s Samantha Smolen was third with a final-round 76 for a 300.
“I’m glad to represent my team and my school,” Moore said.
Moore said leading the tournament heading into the final round was stressful.
“There was a little bit of pressure on top of it being my last time playing collegiate golf,” she said. “It was a little nerve-wracking. I had a little bit of an adrenaline rush on 18 coming in. I hit my drive a little farther than usual and then my second shot, I kind of launched that a litter farther than I should have near the hazard.”
But winning is better than finishing second.
“I’ve come in second several times,” Moore said. “This kind of makes up for all those second-place finishes.”
Young overcomes rough final hole
Young was in the final group to play the 18th hole with a large gallery watching. She got a little flustered with her putting.
“I only had two three-putts the whole week,” Young said. “So having my second one on the last hole with everyone watching was just … it made me mad.”
But after she tapped in?
“It was an awesome feeling,” said Young, whose teammates rushed the green to celebrate with her.
Beagle thought about title during recruiting visit
Brooke Beagle, a junior, was a little worried about how heavy the championship trophy was while posing for photos.
“It’s pretty heavy. I thought I would drop it,” she said with a smile. “[Winning] was just a dream. I never thought it would come true. The best feeling I’ve ever had.”
Beagle had an up-and-down final round.
“I thought the front side was pretty good,” she said. “But on the back side, I started slipping a little bit. I was pretty nervous down the stretch and I didn’t play as well as I wanted to. But overall I’m pretty happy with it.”
She thought this might be a pretty good team when she was first recruited.
“When I came to coach’s office for a visit, we both said we wanted to win a national championship,” Beagle said. “But we knew it would be hard to do. Just to be able to win with Coach Nicoson and Coach [Lyndsey] Bevill by my side, it’s a great feeling.”
Haynes bonded with fellow freshman
Young provided the veteran leadership for the Greyhounds at the tournament as the team’s lone senior. She said having two freshmen in DeHaven and Haynes wasn’t a problem.
“They played well all season,” she said. “I had all the confidence in the world in them. They fit in really well.”
It helped that both freshmen were roommates.
“We’re pretty similar and we’re roommates, too,” said Haynes. “So we’ve bonded a lot. We’re pretty close."
Haynes said she didn’t expect to win a national title her freshman year.
“It’s pretty intimidating knowing that the goal was to win a national championship,” she said. “I was hoping we’d do it sometime during our four years, but I’m glad we did it this year.”
She shot the lowest round of the day with a 1-under 71.
“I knew we had pretty big lead, because I could see the scoreboard right after No. 17,” she said. “I just wanted to par 18 and not mess up on the last hole. It was pretty nerve-wracking.”
Freshman DeHaven finishes strong
Paxton DeHaven, the other freshman, was stunned at the win.
“It’s unbelievable,” she said. “It’s just an awesome feeling. It’s crazy to do this a freshman.”
She bounced back from a rough third round to shoot a 74 on Saturday.
“Yesterday I struggled,” she said. “But I was really proud of my round today. I hung in there and grinded it out. Today was a good day.”
Ward’s gallery was a boost
Molly Ward, a junior, has a lot of confidence in her team.
“I knew we were this good during the [regular] season,” she said. “We had the potential to get even better. We wanted the national championship, but we also took it one week at a time. We won conference first, then we won regionals and then we got here. So we knew we could win it.”
Ward said it was nice to have her own gallery.
“My mom, my aunt and my older brother and his girlfriend came today to watch,” she said. “It was nice to have their support. I struggled today but it was nice to see them out here cheering me on when I made a putt.”
Ward, who graduated from Cathedral High School in Indianapolis, finished with an 82-77-78-89 -- 326.
Coach Nicoson said the team’s previous-best finish at the national championships was third. But to win this one, it was more than just the five top golfers.
“All five girls can play at any time and they’ve shown that all year,” said Nicoson, who also is the Indy men’s golf coach. “Our depth is what helped get us here. There’s girls back home that have pushed these girls. They were in and out of the lineup and have pushed these girls for four years.”