Eight Iowa Conference championships
PELLA-The Central College women’s golf team and fourth-year head coach Tim Wilkinson are determined to improve on last season’s finish and have the players to do so.
“We finished fifth (at the Iowa Conference tournament) without our top golfer in Taylor Hill,” Wilkinson said. “If she plays, it changes the outcome entirely. Throughout the year we had our ups-and-downs, even playing at home. We have the chance to move up in the conference. In golf, we cannot play defense and stop the other teams. We need to remain focused on ourselves and our game.”
Led by juniors and top shooters Hill and Kelsey Van Tasell, the Dutch are positioned to climb the conference ladder. Hill was a two-time medalist, tying for the honor at the season-opening Buena Vista Invitational and running away with the home invitational by 15 strokes. She posted a team-best 77.9 stroke average last fall. Van Tasell posted the other Dutch top finish at the spring invitational in Pella and averaged 86.1 in the fall campaign.
“Having our two captains (Hill and Van Tasell) back in the top two spots this season is great,” said Wilkinson. “Their leadership solidified last year and I am confident that they will come back improved and motivated to work hard and get better. Even though we lost Ashley Smith (to graduation), we are very competitive throughout the roster. The women know the opportunity is there to compete in the varsity lineup and that motivated them throughout the summer.”
Smith was second on the team in average and tops in rounds played.
In addition to Hill and Van Tasell, Central returns three letterwinners and two others who saw action. The incoming class includes four freshmen, all from the state of Iowa, who will compete for spots on the varsity roster, as well.
“The varsity roster will be determined largely by the work the players put in over the summer,” Wilkinson said. “The goal is to get better individually and, in turn, get better as a team. Hopefully our incoming class can push our returners, as well.”
Sophomores Chelsey Shuey and Emily Fisher each posted one top-10 finish last season and shot fourth and fifth on the team in average, respectively. Shuey averaged 95.0 in the fall while Fisher was at 96.5.
Last season ended with some disappointment, but the attitudes of the student-athletes show the excitement for the year ahead.
“I sat down with each athlete after the fall season and asked, ’You know what it is like, you know what is expected, you know what it takes to play well and win, is this something you want to do again, something you want to commit to?,’” asked Wilkinson. “Each one answered ’yes.’ They know they have to work hard to be part of the varsity group, but each athlete will play at some point this season. Being part of the travel roster drives our women to compete, as well. It is a family and culture. We will see how hard they worked and how much they improved over the summer. That aspect is extremely exciting.”
The 2013 schedule resembles the 2012 schedule. Central opens the season at the Buena Vista Invitational in late August, hosts the Central Invitational on Sept. 6-7 and plays the Illinois Wesleyan Invitational in mid-September.
“The schedule is a bit of a balancing act,” said Wilkinson. “On one hand, you want the women to have a good experience and play different courses, but there is a distinct advantage in competing on a course you have played before. As much as you want to vary things, you want to provide stability for the team. It provides additional comfort entering those tournaments. Now that we have all played the conference courses at least once, we adjusted our schedule and added the Luther Invitational. There will be a few conference teams there, but it will be nice to play at a new site.”
Wilkinson is the lone coach for the women’s golf program, but it is a position he loves.
“For our program, it works really well that I am the lone coach,” Wilkinson said. “Our team is not too big (in roster size) for me to handle. It is important to me to be able to provide personal coaching to the entire team. I enjoy being their coach.”
Bos Landen Golf Club
The Dutch practice and play home events at the challenging Bos Landen Golf Club in Pella. The course played host to the third and fourth rounds of the Iowa Conference tournament last year.
“Bos Landen is a phenomenal facility,” said Wilkinson. “(Head professional Scott Reuter) and his staff do a great job of maintaining the course and treating our program well. It is a difficult, challenging course, but is a complete asset for our team. We will never play a course tougher than Bos. We practice on a hard course. That gives our women confidence in meets at other courses. I love it out there.”
Wilkinson said that fans provide a positive impact.
“I was surprised when I arrived at Central,” Wilkinson said. “The amount of fan support from parents, family and the community is great. It is good for the women to be supported by the cheers from the crowd when you hit a good shot.”
The Dutch tee off the 2013 season at the Mount Mercy Invitational on Aug. 30 in Marion, Iowa at Hunters Ridge Golf Course.