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Women’s golf returns to team status and has eyes on redemption

From+left%2C+first-year+student+Helena+Winterberg+and+graduate+student+Cristea+Park+look+to+turn+around+the+Bombers+results+from+last+spring+as+they+return+to+team+status+with+three+new+first-year+students.
Caleb Kaufman
From left, first-year student Helena Winterberg and graduate student Cristea Park look to turn around the Bombers’ results from last spring as they return to team status with three new first-year students.

After finishing the spring of 2023 with only three active members on their roster, the Ithaca College women’s golf team is looking to turn around their results after recruiting three new first-year students.

The squad last year had to compete individually at Invitationals, as they could not put up a score as a team for many of the events. During the fall, the Bombers got off to a promising start, placing first in both the St. Lawrence Invitational and the Ithaca Invitational. 

Head coach Keith Batson, in his sixth season with the team, said he has big hopes for the spring after the squad’s start during the fall. 

“We are more than halfway through our season and have already met some of our goals,” Batson said via email. “This fall we won 2 team events and we hope to continue that good play this spring. Our goals are to focus on the process and doing the stuff we have to do each day to get better and the results will be what they should be.”

The returning Bombers are sophomore Annika Michel, junior Rheanna DeCrow and graduate student Cristea Park. DeCrow and Park have been standout performers, especially during the fall where they both had scoring averages under 80.

In the fall, DeCrow averaged a score of 78.74 and tied for second in the St. Lawrence Invitational, placed second in the Hamilton Invitational and placed first in the Ithaca Invitational. Park averaged a score of 79.26 where she tied for second in the St. Lawrence Invitational with DeCrow and placed second in the Ithaca Invitational.

In addition to DeCrow and Park, first-year student Helena Winterberg should be a player to watch out for, as she won Liberty League Rookie of the Week twice for her performances at the St. Lawrence Invitational and the Williams Invitational. Winterberg averaged a score of 84.63 throughout the fall, only scoring higher than Park and DeCrow. Going into the spring, Winterberg said that she is trying to repeat this by keeping her work ethic high and joked that she aims to win more Liberty League Rookie of the Week awards.

“I’m hoping to keep it going, hoping to get a couple more of those,” Winterberg said. “I think just working hard, putting in the effort and working on my mindset for sure is a tough one for me. I struggled to stay positive sometimes but … I’m just working on being more mentally tough.”

With this roster, Batson believes the South Hill squad has many strengths, however, he said the team must work hard in order to see results.

“Our strengths are many,” Batson said via email. “We have three players who have been with the team for several years with a lot of experience and we have three first years with a lot of talent that just have to get used to playing tournament golf.  Focusing on the day-to-day and the process of getting better is what we need to do well to have success. You get out what you put into this game and if they work hard they will see the results.”

Park, in her fifth season with the team, said that not only does she want the team to be close off the course, but she also wants her work ethic to pay off on them. Park came in before the COVID-19 pandemic. She talked about her first year and joining a roster of nine girls, coming in with other first-year students who she had a close bond with. She wants this year’s squad to develop something similar to that.

“I want them to be close,” Park said. “I’m not asking for best friends, but I’m asking them to take care of each other because that’s a different kind of bond. I want to put enough work that they can see that and put in just as much work, if not more, because I would be so happy to see them excel in the future. I hope that in the future that I can be someone that they can look at and be like, ‘Oh, I liked how she did this and led by example especially’ and if I can be a good influence to them, I hope I am.”

Going into her last few tournaments with the squad, Park said she is giving it all she has on the golf course for her last season.

“I don’t want to give up now and I want to push through and give it everything I have,” Park said. “I will admit that there has been some ups and downs with my motivation being like, ‘Oh, it’s my last semester, like, oh, it’s my last time.’ But at the same time, then I’m back with my team. And I’m like, ‘Oh, my God, it’s my last time.’ Like, the emotion is just right back at it. And when I end up leaving the sport, it will be so bittersweet. But because of that it has been motivating me to think about my team first and put them first and give it a season that I will never regret.”

Batson talked about the strong opponents the Bombers will go against in the Liberty League including reigning champions New York University and No. 13 Wellesley College. However, Winterberg said the team has been using the indoor golf simulator and lifting to prepare for these upcoming tournaments and matches.

Batson emphasized the role of teamwork and collective success among the squad members. The Bombers will resume their season with their spring break trip in Orlando, Florida from March 1016. Batson said this trip will give members an opportunity to spend time with each other and build relationships. 

“We try to be the best teammates we can be,” Batson said via email. “Team first thinking. Good leaders put the needs of the team before their individual needs and that is what I try to instill in them. I think this squad has a better chemistry than some of our prior years and it shows in our results. We will be taking a week-long spring break trip to Florida in March to start our spring season and they have a lot of time together to build team chemistry.”

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Flynn Hynes, Assistant Sports Editor
Caleb Kaufman, Assistant Photo Editor
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