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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

September 24, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Sports

A swinging success

Despite this season being only the golf team’s second as an official varsity sport, there is nothing second-rate about the way the Blue and Gold have been playing.

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Sophomore Brooke Llobell takes a shot at practice Friday at the Country Club of Ithaca. Llobell shot back-to-back 89s last weekend at the Martin-Wallace Invitational hosted by SUNY-Cortland at Cortland Country Club in Cortland, N.Y. RACHEL ORLOW/THE ITHACAN
After finishing a close second in the Empire 8 to Nazareth College last year, the Bombers have climbed to the top of the conference this season.
The South Hill squad won its first Empire 8 Championship on Sept. 18 and 19 at Blue Heron Hills Country Club in Macedon, N.Y. The Bombers had four players place in the top eight overall in their 44-shot victory.
Freshman Amanda Failla, who was named Empire 8 Rookie of the Year and posted a team-best two-day total of 175 at the Empire 8 Championship, said it meant a lot to the team to win its first conference title.
“I know everyone really wanted to win it,” Failla said. “So it was just a great feeling.”
The South Hill squad kept that momentum after its Empire 8 championship. They won the William Smith Invitational on Sept. 26 with a score of 726. The Bombers’ team score of 351 Sunday was the lowest recorded score for one day in their history, and it was also their lowest 36-hole tournament score.
This season the Blue and Gold are focused on improving two specific areas of play, Failla said.
“We all have been working really hard during practice, especially on our short games,” Failla said. We are working so hard to get our putting down to around 32 putts or less. We also have been working on different types of chips.”
Senior Christie O’Shea said the Bombers will look to build off of their success. The conference championship and victory at the William Smith Invitational are just the start to something bigger.
“We have the most depth of any team in the Empire 8,” O’Shea said. “Although we have won two tournaments this year, the whole team knows we can play better.”
Head Coach Dan Wood, who was named Empire 8 Coach of the Year at the Empire 8 Championship, said the depth of the team has given each athlete valuable playing time at the top of the lineup.
“At one time or another in 2010, every single player in the top six has played No. 1 in the second round of the tournament,” Wood said.
The Bombers’ record-breaking performances each weekend show how much the team has improved, and they continue to set the bar higher as the season goes on. Wood said he has confidence in his team, and each players’ development reflects on the team’s success so far this season.
“I expected us to break these records,” Wood said. “We could see improvement last year, and it really is showing this year.”
Even early in the season at the
St. Lawrence University Invitational on Sept. 11 and 12, the Bombers led all Empire 8 teams in the event, which is something they have built off of this season, senior Lauren Ryan said.
“Starting from the tournament in St. Lawrence, we really felt that we would just continue to break records,” Ryan said.
This past weekend, the Bombers’ score of 370 at SUNY-Cortland’s Martin-Wallace Invitational placed them sixth among the 10 teams in the tournament. Wood said it was a showing the team will use as a focus for improvement, but he was glad they placed higher than fellow
Empire 8 teams.
“It was a little bit disappointing because it was a mediocre performance, but we did improve,” Wood said. “We keep improving and that is important.”
As the Bombers look to maintain their record-breaking success, Wood said the team will continue to improve throughout the rest of the season and into next year because of the young core group of talented players.
“Our plan is to recruit some more players and improve our already solid group,” Wood said. “This way, we can compete with SUNY-Cortland as well as other top schools. Hopefully we can close that gap.”