Last year, the Barton Community College women’s golf team sent two golfers to the NJCAA Championship in Daytona Beach, Fla.
This year, the Lady Cougars doubled the amount of qualifiers, giving Barton a new opportunity — to compete as a team.
“We had four that qualified which is a good thing,” Barton head coach Doug Kaiser said. “They can compete as a team this year. They get to compete as individuals also.”
On Saturday, sophomores Shanda Thompson and Rachel Strecker, who both competed at the national meet last year, will join freshmen Chelsea Dietz and Lindsey Wait to compete as a team on the national stage.
Kaiser said that Barton will meet tough competition at the national meet, specially from teams from the south.
“There is a line along the southern border of Oklahoma, and every team beneath that line is considered the south and every team above that line is the north,” Kaiser said. “Teams from the south are pretty competitive because they sometimes get to play golf 12 months out of the year.
“Here, we go home over Christmas and there’s snow on the ground. Down there, they can still usually play golf.”
Kaiser said that the two returning golfers did well at the meet last season.
“What we want to do this year is beat everyone from the north,” Kaiser said. “Rachel, she beat every girl from the north last year. She also beat some of the girls from the south.
“Shanda also beat some girls from the north, but if we can do that, it’s a goal met right there.”
Strecker, a golfer from Ellinwood, was the top finisher for Barton at the NJCAA Region VI Championship in fourth place. She shot a 90 on the first day and 95 on the second to total 185.
Strecker’s top performance this year was a first-place finish at the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference meet at Quail Ridge in Winfield, shooting 87. She also took first place at Coffeyville with a total of 121.
Strecker said that she has no expectations of placement, but wants to top her performance from last year.
“I’d like to do better than I did last year,” Strecker said. “Last year I was pretty nervous going in because it was the biggest tournament I’d ever played in. There were a lot of nerves.
“This year, I’m hoping not to be as nervous and just play better. I’m not looking to place anywhere. I’m not expecting anything like that. I just want to play good rounds.”
Thompson finished right behind her with a 193 total for fifth place.
Thompson’s top finish in teh KJCCC was a fourth-place effort at Coffeyville with a total of 141.
Thompson said that her experience last year has prepared her for what she should expect to see at the LPGA International in Daytona Beach.
“The course is very long,” Thompson said. “It’s very hard. There are a lot of trees and shrubs, but it is a pretty straight away shot though. So it shouldn’t be too bad.
“It’s going to be hot. I think that’s our biggest issue, the heat and humidity. We saw an alligator last year, but it stayed in the water. The one thing you really have to watch out for is fire ants because they are all over the greens.”
Dietz finished in eighth place with a two-day total of 200.
Dietz took second place at the KJCCC meet that Barton hosted with a total of 142.
Even though it is her first time competing in the national meet, Dietz said that she really isn’t nervous about the prospect.
“I expect it to be really pretty,” Dietz said. “I expect to see really good golfers. I’m just open to it all. I don’t feel any stress. I never get stressed out.
“I’ve been working a lot on putting because that is usually my weak point.”
Wait shot a 208 to qualify for the national meet with a ninth-place finish.
Wait said that she hopes to gain some experience at the national meet.
“It is kind of overwhelming, but I’m just hoping to get some good experience for next year,” Wait said. “Having teammates with experience helps because they know the course. They can give us some advice.”
Kaiser said that his team earned its trip, both on and off the course.
“They earned their trip because all of the money used to pay for the trip, we fundraised,” Kaiser said. “We ran concessions at the college for all of the men’s and women’s basketball games. We did every game and every tournament.
“So everything we spend for this trip will be due to fundraising.”