Sophomore Hailey Koschmann won two tournaments during the 2009-10 season, including the JMU Eagle Landing Invitation.
June 2, 2010
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois women's golf team delivered a season of highs and lows in 2010, highlighted by some very positive experiences. During the 2009-10 season every golfer posted or tied her career low round and experienced her career low 54-hole tournament total. Illinois also won its first tournament since the 2007-08 season. Along with the team tournament victory, sophomore Hailey Koschmann became the first Illini to have a multiple-win season since 1995 after taking medalist honors at the James Madison University Eagle Landing Invitational and the Indiana Invitational.
"We made quite a bit of progress," head coach Renee Slone said. "We definitely experienced a number of successes with our win at the Plantation and finishing second at Iowa and Eagle Landing. We definitely had bright spots. We're moving in the right direction, but we still know that we have some work to do. This summer will be a key time for everyone to work on various aspects of their individual games and then come back in the fall and be ready to go."
The Orange and Blue started the spring season off fast, coming in second at the JMU Eagle Landing Invitation out of a 17-team field in Orange Park, Fla. Koschmann recorded a 69 in her first round, tying her career-low round and went on to finish in first with a two under-par performance. Koschmann's 54-hole score of 214 was her career 54-hole tournament total and the third-lowest tournament total in program history.
"It makes everyone feel a sense of accomplishment," Slone said of the progress each individual made. "We set some goals, and fairly challenging goals at that. We didn't necessarily achieve everything on the list, but we did achieve the majority of them. That tells us we're heading in the right direction. Now we need to raise that bar, make it a little more challenging so we continue to strive forward. "
Illinois next competed in two tournaments over spring break, traveling to Pinehurst, N.C. for the Pinehurst Challenge and to Crystal River, Fla. for the University of Cincinnati Spring Invitational. The Illini came in 12th of 18 teams, with sophomore Samantha Sloan finishing 12th individually.
The Illini would rebound at the UC Spring Invitational, shooting a 54-hole total of 893, the second-lowest 54-hole tournament total in program history to win its first tournament since the 2007-08 season. The Illini had two sub-300 rounds of 299-293 in the first two rounds, and finished the tournament with a final-round 301. Along with team success, individually Illinois found success as well, with all five players finishing in the top 35. This was highlighted by Koschmann finishing as runner-up, and Sloan and sophomore Kaitlyn Wampler placing third after shooting 54-hole totals of 223, both players' career-low tournament scores.
"It's always beneficial when you put yourself in position to be contending for the championships," Slone said. "Obviously, at the Cincinnati event we got it done. The other two tournaments we were close and you always learn things from those experiences. When you put yourself back into that same position you can then draw upon that experience and hopefully finish it off."
Koschmann had another career performance at the Indiana Invitational, tying both her career-low round, with a 69 in the final round, and career-low 54-hole tournament total, finishing the tournament in first with a two-under par, 214 outing. Sloan continued her strong play with an eight over-par 224 to finish in a tie for 20th, the fourth-straight week the junior had led or had the second-highest finish for the Illini. As a team Illinois finished 10th with a 54-hole total of 913.
"It's an interesting situation," Slone said of her breakout star, Koschmann. "Obviously, the fall was a bit of a struggle for her. We had some long talks and she came out in the spring with a different outlook, new attitude and she really opened her eyes to what she could accomplish. Hopefully this will serve as motivation for her to continue to raise that bar step by step."
In the final tournament before the Big Ten Championships at the Lady Buckeye Spring Invitational, the Orange and Blue finished ninth of 12 teams, with sophomores Koschmann and Katelin Dilger leading the Illini with 54-hole totals of 245. Sloan finished one stroke off their pace at 246.
At the Big Ten Championships, held at Madison, Wis. on April 23-25, Illinois finished ninth with a 72-hole tournament total of 1230. While not the finish the Illini wanted, Illinois' 1230 score was the lowest 72-hole tournament in program history, besting their 2008 Big Ten Championships total by six strokes. Junior Raquel Hopton led Illinois individually with a 54-hole total of 304, good enough for a tie for 22nd. Koschmann fired a 306 to tie for 28th, while fellow sophomore Sloan finished the Championships tied for 37th at 309. Sophomore Maureen Liddy, a Green Bay, Wis. native, was named Illinois' Sportsmanship Award winner.
"Last year to this season was a great change from the atmosphere," Slone said. "The players had a better idea of what to expect and had a routine down. We were more open to trying different things, understanding there's more than one way to get it done and just having some different experiences. They were able to think about things they had never thought about before or look at things in a different way. They also finally came to understand just how very important the mental side of the game is. As the coaching staff we can say that as much as we want, but until the team members actually buy into that, we could talk into we're blue in the face. I think that was a huge breakthrough moment for them. This spring we spent a lot of time working on the mental aspects of the game and they all found it beneficial. We're going to continue with that next season as well, because it's an area that can certainly lead to a lot of improvement."
At the end of the season awards banquet Koschmann was named the Low Stroke Average Winner with her 75.84 stroke average. Wampler was honored with the Attitude Award, voted on by the team. Hopton and Sloan were presented with the Leadership Award for their time as co-captains. Along with the awards presented at the team banquet, Dilger was given an award from Golfstat.com for leading the nation in total short game at 67.4 percent, with total short game including sand saves and non-sand up and downs.
"Next season we've talked about the team really taking ownership and creating goals that are highly motivating for them," Slone said. "Next season, just putting ourselves into contention more often and being more consistent. That's something we've discussed a number of times this season and it's part of the youth of the team. Now they have that experience and we'll be better able to adapt to different situations that they face on the golf course. Stephanie and myself, obviously we've discussed this past season quite a bit and talked about some different changes that we're going to be making for next season."