Salukis set to tee off

By Tony McDaniel

The SIU women’s golf team will look to capitalize on its one and only home tournament this weekend to grab its first win of the spring season. 

SIU will host 12 teams this weekend at Hickory Ridge Golf Course for the Saluki Invitational. Among the teams competing are Missouri Valley Conference foes Evansville University, Indiana State University and Loyola University.

Coach Alexis Mihelich said she likes her team’s chances to win this weekend.


“If we play solid for two rounds, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be in the mix,” Mihelich said.

The Salukis are in a good position heading into their home tournament. The Salukis finished in the top five in two of the four tournaments they have played in this season. SIU closed out the fall semester with a win at the Middle Tennessee State University Blue Raider Intercollegiate tournament in October.

The Salukis will have the comfort of playing on their home course this weekend and Mihelich said the players will have support from their families, as well.

“A lot of the players are regional and their parents will be in town for the home tournament,” Mihelich said. “They’ll get more support and fan base than they would at an away match. They keep focused a little longer when they know that they have friends and family watching.”

The field for this year’s Saluki Invitational will feature some stiff competition for the Salukis, but among the Dawgs will be defending tournament champion, senior Cassie Rushing.

Rushing will play in her final home tournament for SIU and will take a reserved approach to the tournament, she said.

“I have high expectations because I have won in the past,” Rushing said. “I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself though. I’m just going to play it one hole at a time.”

Coach Mihelich will showcase some of her players that do not get to play the tournaments away from home as well. Mihelich said she will field an ‘A’ and ‘B’ team for the Saluki Invitational based on several factors.

“It’s a majority of qualifying previously for other tournaments, so they play a tournament to get into a tournament,” Mihelich said. “My decision is based on who has qualified previously and then what their performance was at the tournaments we’ve already played.”

One such player that will get an opportunity this weekend is freshman Savannah Myers.  Myers said she is excited at the chance to play competitively on her team’s home course.

“I feel pretty comfortable playing on this course, I’ve been playing on it for a couple of months,” Myers said. “Off the tee, I’ve been pretty nice lately. I’ve been pretty consistent in the fairway.”

One of the team’s which will make the trip to Carbondale for the Saluki Invitational will be Chicago State University where Mihelich coached from 2007 to 2011.  In her time with the Cougars, Miehlich turned a perennial last place team into a golf program that was competing to win tournaments.

Mihelich said she is looking forward to hosting her former team.

“I have two players on the team still, Brooke Melvin who is a senior, and Jessica Peatross who is a senior who I had the pleasure of coaching so it will be really good to see them,” Mihelich said. “They could be in the mix too… I love to see that school, and if there was another school to win outside of us, I’d be really happy for Chicago State.”

While the odds to win the Saluki Invitational are stacked in SIU’s favor, Rushing said she would be happy just to see her team perform well.

“It would be nice to win, we won my freshman and sophomore year and that’s a great accomplishment,” she said. “If we play our best then there will be no regrets.”

The Saluki Invitational will take place all-day Sunday and Monday at Hickory Ridge Golf Course in Carbondale.

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