By Jill Stinson/Assistant sports editor
With their regular season coming to a close last weekend, the women’s golf team prepares to compete in the OVC Conference Championship in Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.The women’s golf team had a record-setting day on Saturday, turning in a 54-hole team-record 945 in the Lady Colonel Classic at Arlington Golf Course, while Brittainy Klein set the individual 54-hole mark with a 227 for the event.
As the ladies prepare for the tournament, they expect to be a top contender. Having finished fourth the past four years, the Lady Colonels would like to finish at the top. Eastern has finished near the top in several tournaments against competing OVC teams. They finished behind OVC opponents Murray State and Tennessee Tech in last weekend’s tournament.
Murray State is the team the Lady Colonels will have to oust. Murray has won the OVC championship the past two years. OVC newcomer Jacksonville State has the best marks heading in the championship, but Tennessee Tech will also be a team the ladies will have to watch.
“Murray is really playing well,” coach Joni Stephens said. “All the teams are peaking at the right time.”
The experience of the Lady Colonels will work to their advantage. Senior Jennifer Sullivan has competed in the conference tournament three previous times, so she is a veteran in OVC play. Sullivan finished sixth last year and ninth in 2001.
Tamara Thompson and Brittainy Klein have both played in the tournament twice. Thompson placed 12th and 14th. Klein has finished 15th and 17th in her trips to the OVC.
This year’s tournament will be Leah Larkin’s second appearance at the championship. Larkin finished 21st last year.
Freshman Rachel Montgomery will be making her debut at the tournament. According to Stephens, Montgomery’s game has progressed all season, and she played really well the in the Lady Colonel Classic this past weekend to earn a spot at conference.
The tournament takes place at the Paducah Country Club in Paducah, Ky. This will be the third consecutive year the tournament has taken place at this location.
“This is a tough course,” Stephens said.
Cuyler Hedley, of Murray State, who won the tournament in 2002, is expected to be the forerunner of individuals along with Marilen Fernandez-Ruiz and Florencia Moran of Jacksonville State.
However, the Eastern women want to give them a good challenge.
It’s the goal of the ladies to be in the top three. Stephens said being at the top is the team’s ultimate goal and it’s very possible.
“We’re tired of being fourth,” Stephens said.
In order for the Lady Colonels to achieve their goal they must have four players shoot scores in the 70s, according to Stephens.
“We played three solid rounds of golf this past weekend, and we’ll have to do the same thing the OVC,” Stephens said.