Saluki golf teams head into offseason

By Sports Desk

The Saluki golf teams are done with the first half of the season, but will do some work before getting back on a tournament tee box.

The SIU golf teams will resume practice in January. Both men’s coach Justin Fetcho and women’s coach Alexis Mihelich said the Salukis will focus on weight training. They will also have some individual practices to stay sharp.

Junior Drew Novara said he will lift weights to add distance to his drive. He said he is glad to have a break from competitive play so he can improve his swing for the spring season.


“I’m kind of looking forward to this little break trying to get caught up on schoolwork, hopefully I’ll work out some kinks in my swing as well,” Novara said.

Sophomore Brooke Cusumano’s offseason plans include running to maintain physical conditioning as well as mental toughness.

Junior Mattie Lindner said it is important for the Salukis to work on their games during the break to gain an edge on their competition.

“It’s all about how much time you’re willing to put in,” Lindner said. “The players who put in time in November … versus others who don’t golf at all for two months, you’re always going to be ahead of the game.”

The women’s offseason also includes monthly team bonding activities, such as movie nights, trips to other SIU sporting events and a Christmas party in December.

When the women’s team practices during the winter, much its their time will be spent inside the Diane Daugherty Golf Facility. The facility was named after the former SIU women’s golf coach of 25 years and was built specifically for the women’s golf team, but the men have access to it as well. The facility features indoor putting surfaces and driving bays that open towards the Hickory Ridge Golf Course driving range.

The men ended the first half of the season with a fourth-place finish at the Austin Peay State University Intercollegiate. Novara tied a school record and shot a 64 in the final round.

“We wanted to put our best foot forward in the final round in the fall,” Fetcho said. “I feel like we went above and beyond that to shoot 12-under par, and it really gives us a lot of confidence and motivation moving forward into the offseason.”

The team had two third-place finishes, an eighth-place finish and a 15th-place finish.

“It definitely had its peaks and it definitely had its lows,” senior Wade Thompson said. “For the most part, as a whole we’re getting a lot better. The scores have been pretty much improving since day one. Of course we had that one very bad round at Louisville, but we try to forget about that.”

The women started the fall strong by winning the Jan Weaver—Murray State Invitational and the Saluki Shootout. After two 12th-place finishes at Missouri and Iowa, they finished the fall with a third-place finish at Arkansas State and an eighth-place finish at Middle Tennessee State.

Cusumano and Lindner were the Salukis’ top performers this fall. The two combined for three top-3 finishes in five tournaments.

Cusumano led all Saluki women’s golfers in four of the first six tournaments, Lindner led in the other two.

The men’s team had two top-3 individual finishes, posted by senior Steve Souchek at the D.A. Weibring Intercollegiate, and Thompson at the Skyhawk Classic.

Novara and Thompson each led the men’s team in two tournaments. Souchek led the other.

Freshman Alice Ho competed in all six tournaments in her first semester, including four as a team member. She finished as high as 11th overall at the Saluki Shootout on Sept. 21.

Senior captain Kris Grimes said this fall was not her best. Grimes missed the cut to travel to tournaments at Missouri and Iowa and did not shoot below a 75.

“Not my best, but I’m still working every day,” Grimes said. “It’s given me more push for my spring to be better. My senior year I want to go all-out.”

Grimes said knowing she has only one semester left has not affected the way she prepares, but added that it is “a little nerve-wracking.”

She plans to continue to work hard during the offseason on her putting and short game, the two parts of her game she said are the weakest. Grimes, a native of Compton, Calif., plans to return home during winter break to stay sharp by playing on actual golf courses.

Grimes will be the lone senior for the spring season because senior Whitney Nugent will graduate after this semester. Grimes said her teammates all improved their games over the course of the fall.

“Everyone’s game has stepped up,” Grimes said. “I can’t say anything negative because everyone’s pushing. As a captain, that’s what you want to see.”

Thompson said he is going to work with his swing coach this offseason, but will also rest up. He said he thinks SIU is one of the best teams in the Missouri Valley Conference, and will have a shot to claim the title April 28.

Aaron Graff can be contacted at [email protected], on Twitter @Aarongraff_DE or 536-3311 ext. 269

Thomas Donley can be contacted at [email protected] on Twitter @TdonleyDE or 536-3311 ext. 269