Cats’ message: ‘We’re one of the best teams’

Bernard Schwartz

The new era was all set to be ushered in, but no one was home, so it became just a message on the machine.

It’s not that Kristen Beystehner, now a senior co-captain on the Northwestern women’s golf team, hadn’t been expecting the call, but waiting around for a new era can be torturous. Plus, on that day early last May, she had errands to run.

Beystehner said she was gone only 10 minutes, but it was during her brief absence that the new era finally arrived.

It announced itself like this: “Congratulations are in order. We did it.”

The message was from coach Chris Regenberg, who had been telephoning all her players to tell them that, well, they had done it. NU had qualified for the NCAA East Regional for the first time in its eight-year history.

Not only did the Wildcats qualify for the East Regional, but they went on to storm the field of heavyweights and finish second behind Duke, the defending NCAA champion.

It was now official. The team had welcomed the new era with open arms, and things would never be the same, especially after NU qualified for the NCAA championships, where they finished 24th.

“I think this year we have a lot higher expectations,” sophomore Elizabeth Burden said. “I feel that we’re one of the best teams out there.”

Added Beystehner: “We only want to do better than we’ve done in the past.”

NU and the new era parted for the summer, but, by fall, both were back and rolling.

The Cats played four tournaments this fall and never finished worse than fifth. The short season was then capped off with a win at the Central District Classic.

NU went into its winter hiatus ranked No. 11 in the country.

The new era began last spring, was renewed this fall and only enhanced by the arrival of two talented freshmen.

Hana Kim and Lauren Grzebien have joined seniors Beystehner and Christie Hermes, junior Emily Gilley and Burden to make these Cats some of the best ever assembled.

“This is probably the most talented team to ever be at this program,” Beystehner said. “Hands down, it’s the most talented group of individuals.”

Both Gilley and Burden were named to the All-Big Ten team last year. And both Kim and Grzebien came highly touted from southern California and Rhode Island, respectively. All four finished in the top eight at the Central District Classic.

“(Kim and Grzebien) are really strong players,” Burden said. “It’s a really strong team with a lot of depth. All of us are capable of going low.”

After some three months of indoor-only golf, NU opened the spring season last weekend with a ninth-place finish at the Midwest Classic in Dallas.

The result was greeted more with understanding than disappointment.

“We were a little rusty,” Grzebien said. “It’s more of a mental thing – knowing we haven’t played outside in a while.”

The Cats will play their second tournament this weekend and once again return to Texas, this time to compete in the “Mo”-Morial in Houston.

“Makes sense doesn’t it?” Beystehner said. “We’re on sort of a mini-tour of Texas, but hopefully we’ll do better this time around.”

While the old days rattled on for eight years, the new era has been at NU for only a matter of months. But the Cats are well aware of its magnitude, as well as the pressure it carries, and it’s all part of the process – one Kim is excited to help build.

“Why not start at the foundation?” Kim said. “Why be satisfied going somewhere already at the top?”