Oct. 14, 2002
Ohio State head coach Therese Hession has built the Buckeye women’s golf program into a consistant competitor in the Big Ten conference and around the nation. The Buckeyes return three letterwinners from last season to the lineup and Hession hopes younger players to fill the holes. The four and five positions could be the determining factor on how far the team can go in 2003.
The Buckeye roster is comprised of three juniors, four sophomores, two redshirt freshmen and three true freshmen. With no seniors and nine underclassmen, the 2002-03 squad is a young bunch of athletes who will look to gain experience as the season progresses.
Junior Allison Hanna and sophomores Kristen White and Lindsay Knowlton lead the group of returnees for the Buckeyes this season. Hanna and White are previous Big Ten freshmen of the year recipients and Knowlton was named to the all-regional team a year ago. The trio is the only returning letterwinners for the scarlet and gray.
“Allison is playing well right now,” Hession said. “She says she is hitting the ball the best she ever has in her life. I know she’s very excited to return. Lindsay and Kristen did a really good job last year and they are going to be even better as sophomores. Coming back, they are going to know what is going on and will be more familiar with things. I look for them to step up for us.”
Jennifer Borowiec, Emily Kuhfeld and Sara Walker saw limited action last season but will look to compete for spots in the Buckeye lineup.
“I’m really looking forward to two players outside of the top three (Hanna, Knowlton, White) to really step up,” Hession said. “I think it’s going to be a pretty wide-open race. We are going to have an opportunity to take six players to five or six events this year so we are going to be able to gain some awesome experience. It will be interesting to see who steps up and fills that opportunity.”
With competition looming between all the players, it would not be surprising if the Buckeye lineup changed as the season grows.
“They are all doing very well and it’s really hard to say who is going to be the fourth, fifth and even sixth players when we travel,” Hession said. “The lineup might rotate quite often during the year. We are going to try and have playoffs before some events because I certainly want to try and give them all an opportunity to step up and prove themselves.”
The battle for traveling positions in the Buckeye lineup becomes even more competitive with the addition of three talented freshmen. Brittany Adams, a native of Huntington, W.Va., has proven herself as the 2000 West Virginia women’s state amateur champion. She was the 2001 runner-up and a third-place finisher in 2002 and has lauded several other honors in her home state. Allyson Harvie ventures to Ohio from Grass Valley, Calif. Harvie is a former Sacramento Bee Golfer of the Year and won the NCPGA Junior Championship in the summer of 2001. Mary Ann Plunkett comes to Columbus from Fort Thomas, Ky., and is a rapidly-improving golfer.
“The new freshmen have some experience,” Hession said. “They have played in a lot of national tournaments and are definitely going to figure into the mix.”
Once again, Ohio State is preparing for another tough schedule, as the squad will compete against some of the top teams in the country in every tournament. The Buckeyes begin the season in Tokyo, Japan at the international Topy Cup event. The 20th-annual tournament features competition between the United States and Japan.
“It’s a nice honor to be named one of the teams that gets a chance to play over there,” Hession said. “The girls deserved it from their play and hard work last year. It’s an opportunity to do something very unique and it will be an entirely different experience.”
The Topy Cup is one of four new events on the Buckeye schedule this season. The Tar Heel Invitational, Lady Gator Invitational and Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic also are new events in 2002-03.
“We have a very good schedule again this year,” Hession said. “I think that it’s well-balanced and we will definitely get our fair share of national competition. We are going to be playing against a lot of good teams all the time. Once again, like last year, we may not win a lot of tournaments and still have a good team and a good year. Playing against good teams makes the competition great and our players will have a chance to prove themselves on a national level.
DEFENDING THE TITLE
As defending Big Ten champions, Ohio State will be after back-to-back conference titles in 2003. The Big Ten championships will be held April 25-27 in Iowa City, Iowa at the Finkbine Golf Course, where Hession won her first conference title at the helm of the Buckeye program in 1993.
“It will be fun to go back there,” Hession said. “It’s been a friendly course to the Buckeyes and hopefully it will be again this year.”
KEEPING THE STREAK ALIVE
Ohio State has made a school-record six consecutive NCAA championship berths. Even though No. 7 is within the team’s reach, the Buckeyes are striving for a high finish.
“They are a lot of good freshmen around the country, so the top teams aren’t really going to drop a beat from last season,” Hession said. “There are also a lot of teams stepping it up a notch, so the competition is going to be really tough. If we have a really good week (at nationals) to have an opportunity, then you can’t figure us to be out of the mix.”