Dawgs win Saluki Invitational

By Tony McDaniel

The women’s golf team made a habit out of protecting its house, winning three straight home tournaments.

SIU won the Saluki Invitational Monday at Hickory Ridge Golf Course with a two-round score of 617, ahead of the nearest competitor by 14 shots. The Dawgs’ second round total of 309 was just one stroke worse than their first round score.

Alexis Mihelich, who has coached the Salukis in their two latest Saluki Invitational wins, said she was proud of how her team capitalized on its home course advantage.


“I would always think the home team should have the advantage to at least strive to win,” Mihelich said. “I can only hope to continue the tradition.”

The Salukis finished out in front of 12 other teams including Missouri Valley Conference foe Indiana State University, who finished second with a score of 631. Mihelich’s former team, Chicago State University, posted a cumulative score of 638 to finish third. MVC competitor Evansville University finished fourth with a score of 643.

Kayla Katterhenry of Evansville finished in first overall with a score of 147, but the Salukis were not far behind.

Junior Kris Grimes, who posted a two-round score of 152 and finished in third place, led SIU on the scorecard. Grimes said she was pleased to bounce back with such a strong result after finishing 43rd at the Eagle Landing Invitational last week.

“Last week was tough for me,” Grimes said. “It was beautiful weather but I just couldn’t focus or hone in. It feels good to come back home and then be able to play well on the course that I know, and at the same time in conditions that weren’t really the best.”

The home tournament also allowed Mihelich to field a second team of five golfers, or a “B” team. The “B” team finished tied for tenth, and was led by freshman Brooke Cusumano who shot identical rounds of 77 to finish in fifth.

Mihelich said she was happy with how her second team performed.

“I was really impressed,” she said. “They came out and beat two Division I “A” teams. It just shows how much depth we have as a team. They can only continue to get better. Four of those players that weren’t in the lineup are underclassmen, they can continue to improve and contribute later in their careers.”

Seniors Ashleigh and Cassie Rushing shot a 155 and 156 to finish in the top 10 as well. While neither of the seniors recorded individual scores low enough to win their final home tournament, Ashleigh said she was happy with her team’s performance overall.

“I tried not to think about [playing in my final home tournament] too much today,” Ashleigh said. “It feels good to win it as a team though.”

Freshman Kristie Yang also finished in the top 10 for SIU. Yang shot a team-low 72 in the first round, but shot an 83 the second day, which was still good enough for a sixth-place tie.

Yang’s performance marked the third time this semester a Saluki finished in the top 20 as an individual.

Sophomore Mattie Lindner and freshman Xianmei Jin finished in a tie for 15th. Jin played consistently shooting a 79 and 80 in the two rounds, while Lindner shot an 84 in round one, but bounced back with a 75 in the windy second round.

Lindner said the wind and her putting helped her quite a bit on the second day of the tournament.

“I’m a wind player,” she said. “I’m from just north of Indianapolis and the wind never stops. I’m used to wind. I like clubbing up, so I know it sounds weird, but for some reason, I’m good with it.”

The win yesterday marked the third time the Salukis have won a tournament this year, which put the team just one behind Mihelich’s previous record of four wins in a season dating back to her first year as a Saluki.

Mihelich said her team has a shot to tie that record this season.

“We still have Bradley and conference,” she said. “Exceeding four wins? Maybe not, but I think we can get to four.”

Tony McDaniel can be reached at [email protected], @tonymcdanielDE or at 536-3311 ext. 282.