Sports: DWU returns to NAIA nationals
SAN DIEGO -- The Dakota Wesleyan women's golf team appears to like it better in San Diego than South Bend, Ind. After playing in Indiana the past two seasons for the NAIA national tournament, the Tigers are now in southern California for the tour...
SAN DIEGO -- The Dakota Wesleyan women's golf team appears to like it better in San Diego than South Bend, Ind.
After playing in Indiana the past two seasons for the NAIA national tournament, the Tigers are now in southern California for the tournament.
Climate aside, the Tigers are at their fourth straight national tournament and confidence is abound. Wesleyan, ranked No. 24 in the country, brings with it a solid lineup that includes senior Heather Snavely, freshman Kelli Baseley, freshman Nora Quinters, senior Krystle Alexander and freshman Heather Love.
Baseley was the Region 3 champion two weeks ago and Snavely was the region champion a year ago. DWU head coach Adam Anderson, whose team took 21st at nationals last year in Indiana, is hoping for a top 15 finish this season.
"I think overall we have more team confidence this year than last year," he said. "I think our overall ability as a whole, from top to bottom, is also a lot stronger. That's evidenced in the way Kelli performed at regions and how all of our golfers were in the top 15 at regions. We don't rely solely on Heather and Courtney (Petersen) like we did last year. We have two or three people who can really get it going and play well."
The Tigers are ranked No. 24 in the latest NAIA poll. The national tournament is being played at Lake San Marcos Country Club in San Diego. The four-day, 72-hole tournament will have 23 teams and 120 individuals competing.
The Tigers will tee off with British Columbia and Lubbock Christian today. The Tigers placed 10th and 13 their first two seasons at the tournament. Oklahoma City University is the two-time defending team champion.
Wesleyan already had two practice rounds at Lake San Marcos after flying out to San Diego Saturday. According to Anderson, Snavely and Baseley, the course is a lot of different from Wild Oak Golf Club in Mitchell, where the team routinely practices.
"It's going to be a challenge for every team here," Anderson said. "The greens are very fast and holes 11 through 14 are pretty tricky. Our short game is going to have to be on. (Monday) we practiced our putting for about 40 minutes. Our short game has been hit and miss this year. Sometimes we're very good and sometimes we've been awful. But overall, it was good enough to get us to nationals."
Snavely is making her fourth straight trip to the national tournament. The Winner native took 33rd last year at nationals and was named an NAIA honorable mention All-American.
Snavely said the biggest thing she'll have to get used to about Lake San Marcos are the sand traps and greens. To get ready for the different course, the Tigers went to Parkston and Fish Lake, among other courses, to ready themselves for the change.
"Putting is going to be the big thing on this course," Snavely said. "I think it's a lot shorter than Blackstone in Indiana. But I think you can miss the ball and still be OK here. There's hardly any thick rough, but the greens are tricky and the sand is really powdery. I've worked on my short game a lot the last couple of weeks to get ready."
Baseley is mostly concerned about the different types of grasses on the course.
"Everything runs a lot different, especially on the greens," she said. "They hold a lot better up north. I've played on southern courses before so I'm a little familiar with this type of green. It will be challenging. The short game is always key whenever you play golf, especially on this course. Personally, my short game has had its good days and bad days. It just depends."
Anderson said Snavely and Baseley are both capable of top 25 finishes. He also knows that his bottom three players -- Quinters, Alexander and Love -- are vital to the Tigers' success.
"That's very important," he said. "You take four out of your best five scores to count for the team score. We're counting on those three girls to step up every single day. They know that. They've played in tournaments all year long and should be ready."
Snavely and Alexander are the only DWU players with national-tournament experience. Team-wise, Anderson is hoping for a top 15 showing.
"This year, we started out ranked No. 19 and eventually fell to No. 24," Anderson said. "We feel like we should be more respected than that. We want to show that we're a top 15 team. I think we can do that."