By Michael Comodeca
After a historic run by the Cleveland State women’s golf team last season — which was capped off by winning the school’s first Horizon League title — they look to carry that momentum into this year.
For the student athletes who participated in the group’s run last year, it will always be special to them and the school. That’s because it was not just a record that could be broken, it was a first that will always live on in Cleveland State lore.
“Being part of the first team to win a conference title is an amazing feeling,” Sophie Kelner, a senior at Cleveland State, said. “Records get broken but being the first to do something, that is something that lasts.”
As the team marches on, it is not without high expectations from its players and coaches. Every time they head off to a tournament, these young women feel that no situation can rattle them because of their expectation of winning every match.
“Our team expects to compete at our best every time on the course, so we are critical and focused regardless of winning the Horizon League,” Kelner said.
With only one tournament being played, it’s still too early to determine how this year will play out. However, Cleveland State finished third overall in the tournament so they are off to a promising start. Madison Butler, a freshman from Medina, Ohio, has played well so far. She finished first overall in the tournament and became the fifth player in school history to win a tournament. In addition, the university had three players finish in the top 20 with Butler topping the list. She was followed by Kaylee Neumeister who finished sixth and Amanda Baker who finished 20th. This gives the ladies even more confidence going into their next tournament.
Up next, Cleveland State will play in a tournament on Sept. 18 and 19 in Yorktown, Indiana as the team looks to build on all the positives from the tournament in Youngstown. This trip is special for Kelner because the course is about 40 minutes away from her childhood home and she enjoys playing at the course. “We are confident heading to Ball State because we had a good showing in Youngstown and saw lots of positive things from everyone,” Kelner said. “I don’t think there is any added pressure playing. This is a course I like a lot.”
The team has a good mix of senior leadership and youthful exuberance to go along with experienced coaching. Last year, the team was comprised of all underclassmen and not a single senior. This year they have three seniors in Emily Turski, Sophie Kelner and Hannah Bennie, who have taken more of a leadership role on the team.
“Emily and I have emerged as team leaders after being the older, more experienced members of the team last year,” Kelner said. “We don’t feel more responsibility because we have been in the leadership role before and we work well together.”