DWU women hoping to make presence on national stage
The Dakota Wesleyan University women’s golf team has been nothing less than dominant in the last five years.
The Tigers have won five straight Great Plains Athletic Conference championships and will look to add another as their season kicks off Saturday against Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
“We have to play to the level that we know we can play to,” DWU golf coach Adam Anderson said. “I think we have the right team in place to make another serious run at the conference tournament. We just have to play in the tournaments how we have been practicing recently, and if we can do that, we will be a contender for the GPAC title again.”
The Tigers have won nine of the last 10 conference titles, but Anderson said he doesn’t see any signs of complacency in his team. Perhaps a reason the team is not yet content, is because it still has unfinished business at the national level.
Last season, Wesleyan qualified for the NAIA national tournament, finishing 23rd out of 27 teams. DWU missed the final day of competition because it failed to make the top 17. Still in the final national poll of the season, the Tigers were voted 25th.
“We need confidence when we go play in the national tournament,” Anderson said. “I think we need to realize that we can play better than what we have done at the national tournament in the recent years. We do belong with the top 10 or 15 programs in the country, and we need to take our space among those good teams.”
Making sure Wesleyan stays at the top of the GPAC and breaks ground in the national tournament will be a quintet of golfers. Four of the golfers are familiar faces, while one is a newcomer, looking to put her stamp on the season.
Sophomore Lauren Fitts is DWU’s top returner. Last season, Fitts was named the GPAC women’s golfer of the year. In her inaugural season with the Tigers, she also claimed the GPAC individual women’s championship.
Joining Fitts will be senior Chelsea Burback, juniors Jenna Winckler and Talia Peters and freshman April Barnett.
Burback was a first-team all-GPAC selection after she finished second to Fitts at the GPAC women’s championship. Winckler, who has finished third the last two years at the conference championships, was also a first-team all-GPAC selection. Rounding out the returners is Peters, who finished ninth at the women’s championship en route to earning first-team all-GPAC honors, as well.
Taking the fifth spot this year is Barnett, a freshman, from Lakeview, Texas.
“Our experience makes us a tough team to beat,” Anderson said. “But there are no give me’s on the golf course, so we have to make sure we play our best.”