Golfers tee off in first conference match-up
By SARAH RYKOWSKI
Saint Mary's golf team tees off for the first conference meet of its season at 1 p.m. on Sept. 11, against Alma, Hope, Olivet, Kalamazoo, Albion, Defiance, Adrian and Calvin Colleges.
Led by second-year Head Coach Theresa Pekarek, the Belles intend to make this a successful meet.
"They play well together as a team," Pekarek said. "They work together well and have great enthusiasm."
The meet is at Pine River County Club — Alma College's home course. With only one senior, Heather Pedraza, on the roster this year, the Belles are a young team. The only other returning players are sophomore Mary Claire Hathaway and junior captain Kyle Veltri.
The rest of the team is composed of rookies including junior Julie Glud and Natalie Cook. Five freshmen finish off the team: Rachel Benkert, Heather Goodrich, Kara Harms, Molly Lee and Kristie Maurer.
Hathaway, Pedraza and Veltri turned in very strong scores last season, leading the Belles to a fourth-place finish in the MIAA behind Hope, Albion and Defiance. Among the four teams there was only a 461-point difference, which would translate a lead between first-place Hope College and fourth place Saint Mary's of roughly one-and-a-half meet scores.
"Regardless of the closeness in the stats, we are a very competitive team to begin with," Veltri said. "Our goal is to remain in the top four, if not the top two this season. We've worked very hard to better our game. I think that we'll have a very competitive season."
In last year's Pine River Golf Club meet, the Belles came in fourth. Coach Pekarek has not released the names of the six golfers who would be traveling to the meet. She states, however, that her three returning players, Hathaway, Pedraza and Veltri, are very good players and will be looked upon for large contributors.
Pekarek also said that Cook, a transfer student from Taylor University, will contribute heavily this year.
"Natalie will be a real asset this season," Pekarek said. "Freshmen Heather Goodrich and Molly Lee are good players who will grow with the team."
Last week the Belles had a non-conference meet with Tri-State at Brookwood Golf Course. All of the golfers had the opportunity to compete, and the new golfers had a chance to experience collegiate golf competition before a conference meet.
The Belles are the only team in the conference to have such a meet, and Pekarek sees it as an advantage.
"We'll fare pretty well [next week]," said Pekarek.
All Sports Stories for Thursday, September 9, 1999