Two things are important when it comes to team sports: having talent and getting every ounce of ability out of players on a squad. While one of these attributes can be helpful in moving a team along, only the combination of the two leads to a truly successful season.
Such is the best way to understand the Wildcats’ performance on the links this past season. By far, the program had its best season to date, closing out a maiden victory at the Big Ten Championships in April and advancing through the NCAA Regionals for only the second time ever, ending with a 15th place finish at the NCAA Championships.
This season, the team possessed its most talented squad in its nearly quarter-century of play. Clearly, the recent funnel of top recruits to NU lent credibility to the program and is now producing results.
Yet, as much game as the NU ladies had, they still had to outperform expectations in order to qualify for the NCAA Championships. While Lauren Weaver and Devon Brown, last season’s two best scorers, suffered through slumps, every other significant team member got the absolute most she could out of games this season.
Hana Lee and Kaitlin Park, both underclassmen, garnered first-team All-Big Ten selections. Suchaya Tangkamolprasert, a freshman, produced the team’s best score in three of its last four events. Elizabeth Szokol, another freshman, while inconsistent, had some inexplicably low rounds that made her contribution noteworthy.
The team maxed out its golfing ability in 2013, and it could be even better next season. Weaver is the only key player leaving, and if Brown’s swing-change blues recede, she has the game to return as the team’s No. 1. She’ll have a lot of competition for that spot, but that’s a good thing for a team that looks poised to further its presence on the national level.