The SIU women’s golf season came to a close Tuesday with a middle-of-the-pack finish at the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.
SIU shot a 300 in round three to finish fourth, eight shots behind Wichita State University, the tournament’s champion. The Salukis’ three-round score of 908 was 44-over-par for the tournament.
Coach Alexis Mihelich summed up her team’s play in one word; decent.
“The course played relatively easy, one of the easiest setups that we’ve played all year,” Mihelich said. “We shot mediocre scores compared to the field, and we’d beat those teams prior.”
Senior Ashleigh Rushing said she was disappointed her team didn’t win the conference tournament.
“Obviously, being a senior, I would have liked to win one time in my four years,” she said. “Everyone played to the best of their abilities the last three days so you can’t really be too mad about it.”
Wichita State earned the 2014 MVC crown with a three-round score of 900, edging out Indiana State University by just one stroke. Illinois State University finished third with a three-round score of 906, two strokes better than the Dawgs’ 908.
SIU shot a 300 in round one and a 309 in a rain-soaked second round.
Mihelich said despite the weather, her team should have played better in the second round.
“We were prepared for the rain, we had all of our rain gear,” she said. “The players just couldn’t get it going, they played average, but in the championship you’re going to have to find a way to play better than average.”
Individually, the Saluki seniors were the bright spot of the tournament.
Senior Cassie Rushing shot a 73, 77 and a team-low 70 in the third round to finish the tournament tied for fourth place; eight shots behind tournament champion Danielle Lemek of Bradley University.
Cassie said she was pleased to end her collegiate career with an 18-hole score of 70.
“Obviously, my goal was to win, but we can’t win them all,” she said. “My practice over the last few weeks has paid off because I played so much more consistent than I had been.”
Ashleigh finished tied for 11th overall and shot identical scores of 76 in rounds one and two before scoring a 74 in round number three.
“In the final round, the highlight was the two seniors playing the best rounds of the tournament to close their college careers,” Mihelich said.
SIU’s remaining three players all shot three round scores of 232 to finish tied for 26th.
Junior Kris Grimes started the tournament out with a score of 75, which was good for a tie for 14th place. She would shoot a 79 and a 78 in the final two rounds to close out the tournament.
Freshman Brooke Cusumano shot a 77 in the first two rounds, but followed that up with a 78 in round three. Fellow freshman Xianmei Jin started the tournament with a 76, but shot back-to-back 78s in rounds two and three to finish 16-over-par for the tournament with Grimes and Cusumano.
“I thought it was a really good accomplishment that we didn’t have to take a score in the 80s,” Ashleigh said. “I feel like you know you have a good team when you don’t have to take a round in the 80s.”
Despite winning four tournaments this season and tying Mihelich’s best season, she said was not pleased with the season.
“A good season ends with winning the conference championship,” Mihelich said. “I’d say it was a respectable season.”
Tony McDaniel can be reached at email@example.com, @tonymcdanielDE or at 536-3311 ext. 282