Golfers off to Ohio;

Jim Schortemeyer

The Minnesota women’s golf team’s hopes for a Big Ten championship have been quelled by two sound beatings from Indiana over the last two weekends.
Now senior Kristi Weichert says the team’s focus is on making the NCAA regional tournament.
“It’s basically that our season comes down to this weekend’s tournament,” Weichert said.
Standing in Minnesota’s way at this weekend’s Buckeye Invitational are two formidable teams: Michigan State and Purdue.
The 36th-ranked Spartans won the Big Ten preview meet last fall and are capable of beating the Gophers. The Boilermakers beat Minnesota by a stroke two weeks ago at the Indiana Invitational.
“It’s hard to say where we stand,” Weichert said. “We need to beat Michigan State and Purdue. We need to beat them if we’re going to get in.”
For the Gophers to secure a spot in the NCAA regional, they’ll need a team effort. But that hasn’t been a problem for Minnesota so far this season. With four seniors on the team, the Gophers have seen a jump in their results from last season, without necessarily having a leader on the course.
“It’s shifting all the time,” coach Kathy Williams said. “It makes everybody better. Plus, I have some kids back home who are right there, trying to make it onto the squad.”
Last year the Gophers were a mediocre team. They finished seventh at Big Tens and were rarely a factor in a tournament.
This year has brought a welcome change of pace for Minnesota. While Indiana and Ohio State have shown they’re still the best of the Big Ten, Minnesota has made a strong run at third place, and could step up if the Hoosiers or Buckeyes fall out of the picture.
The improvement has everything to do with the Gophers seniors. Weichert, Melanie Lepp, Michelle Ballou and Donna Boom have put up nice numbers on a consistent basis. The group — which could be extended to include sophomore Jenny Bruun — has finished within one or two strokes of each other all spring.
“It is kind of odd,” Williams said. “But it’s nice because everybody thinks they can be that number one player. It’s a neat team situation.”