May 02, 2014

My Championship Experience -- 2014 Women's Golf Edition

My Championship Experience is a diary blog written by Summit League student-athletes detailing their experiences at each of the 19 Championships.

I would first like to thank The Summit League and Sky Creek Ranch for hosting the Championship and all of their hard work to create on a great tournament.

We left campus for The Summit League Championship bright and early with our sights set on our 11th-straight conference title.  Our day consisted of traveling, practice, and a welcome banquet.  This was our first tournament traveling with the men’s team. I never realized how much food they ate, their stomachs are like bottomless pits!  We grabbed food when we got to the airport, then the men’s team made a stop at In-N-Out Burger before heading to Sky Creek Ranch to get a little practice in.  I think our assistant coach, Erik Billinger, was a little jealous that he missed out on the burgers since there we are without any In-N-Out franchises in Colorado.  The men’s team got lucky and got to travel in style and in first class giving them some much needed extra-leg room.  After arriving in Dallas, we traveled to the course to get a brief, productive practice session in before the nights’ festivities.  Following our practice, The Summit League started off the week with a welcoming banquet.  Everyone looked so fancy and dressed up, a change from our everyday golf clothes and hats was a nice change of pace.

The Associate Commissioner of Administrative Services for The Summit League, Angie Torain, started off with some brief welcoming’s by introducing The Summit League Committee and recognizing each team.  I would like to thank them for all of their time and hard work in putting on this tournament.  After a delicious dinner and dessert, Angie presented the first and second-team All-Leaguers.  Congratulations to all players who made these teams and to my teammates for sweeping the first team all-league honors as well as the Pioneer men’s team. 

Come Sunday we were ready to put are golf clothes back on.  We played a practice round at 1:30 p.m. giving everyone who wanted time to go to Church on Easter.  For me, the late practice round meant a chance to sleep in and catch up on homework.  When we got to the course, it was a beautiful day--80 degrees and sunny.  I know a lot of teams appreciated playing golf in warm temperatures and with sun for most of the round. The weather took a turn near the end of the round, getting cloudy and drizzling.  When the last hole came around, it was pouring! We walked the 18th hole with our umbrellas up and our feet splashing in the puddles.  There was a quick dinner set up for all the teams at the course.  After, we went back to the hotel to get some rest for the first day of competition.

The day started at 6:30 a.m. when the alarm went off.  Izzy [Southard] and I were rooming together and were the first two to tee off for the Pioneers.  We woke up and went through our normal routines. We have it down pat now after being roommates the last four tournaments!  After a breakfast at the hotel, we departed for the course to get the day started. Being in Texas, was a nice change in pace for all of the teams regarding the nice weather.  It was sunny and hot again.   After warming up, I headed to the tee to watch Izzy tee off.  Although none of our parents traveled to the tournament, we did have a few supporters come out and watch.  Beth Kuwata, the Assistant Athletic Director, came down to Keller, Texas, to watch us compete in the first round. After much anticipation, it was finally my turn to get the round started.  I had the usual first-hole butterflies in my stomach and an adrenaline rush.  It ended up being a decent round… not my best, but not my worst.    After finishing my first 18-holes, the team and I cheered on the rest of the Pioneers finishing their round.  At the end of the day, we were leading the tournament and our freshman Mariell [Bruun] finished with a solid round of even-par and was leading the tournament!  To make it a little better the men’s team was also in the lead by three strokes.  After the round, we got more practice in before it started storming again.  We went to a fancy Italian restaurant for dinner before heading back to the hotel to get another good night of rest.

 We have the same tee-times as the first day of the tournament, an even more sunny day
than yesterday, and are in the lead.  I go through the same routine, except today we switched with men’s teams and started on the back nine.  Personally for me, my round was a bit up and down but my teammates played well and we were still in the lead with a nice cushion.  Mariell had played well again and was still in the lead.  Tonje Daffinrud, the senior on our team, also had a solid first two rounds and was only two shots back of the lead.  Our men’s team struggled a little bit today and ended the day eight-strokes back of the leader.

That night, our Associate Athletic Director at DU, Ron Grahame, flew in from Denver to watch the final round.  We went with Ron and the men’s team for a nice meal at Chili’s before heading back to the hotel to catch up on some homework, shared some laughs, then went to bed. 

It was here. The final round.  We were all excited but knew we still had to go out, compete, and get the job done.   We all played well, Tonje shooting one under to take the individual lead and win back-to-back conference titles.  I came back today and ended with steady round of two-under.  Our performances were good enough to win our 11th-straight conference championship.  We broke the record with a 71-stroke margin of victory.  Following our excitement and awards ceremony, we went back out to support the men’s team.  They fought back and three of the five players birdied the 18th hole to win by five-strokes, it was indeed a very clutch performance.  We each brought home the winning trophy and had some proud coaches.  I’m so proud of my team and can’t wait to take on the teams at the NCAA Regionals to try and qualify for Nationals.

Go Pioneers!

-Elyse Smidinger 

Don’t forget to check out the next edition of My Championship Experience as it follows the Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships, April 25-27 and throughout the 2013-14 season for coverage at each of The Summit League Championships.

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