By Marc Weems
With golf season right around the corner, the Youngstown State University women’s golf team prepares for their first match up against conference foes. Last season, Oakland University was the Horizon League champion last season just ahead of YSU. Their first match of the season includes Oakland and Cleveland State University.
YSU is projected to finish second behind Oakland but one spot ahead of CSU.
“I’m super excited for this,” YSU senior Mia Barchetti said. “It’s going to give us such a great opportunity to see what’s next for the conference play. Just being able to compete this early is going to give us such good experience.”
Barchetti said that being friends with the girls from both teams makes matches like this very different from a competition point of view.
Barchetti is one of just two seniors on the team along with Haleigh Guerrero. Both girls were part of the 2015 Horizon League championship team that won by 11 strokes. Both Oakland and CSU came in second and third, respectively.
“There are three of us that are still on the team that were a part of that,” Barchetti said. “It was such a great experience. Being able to share that with the other girls is so hard to put into words. Having that experience is something to show the younger girls that we can do that again. That is my motivation.”
YSU head coach Nate Miklos spoke on the upcoming season.
“For us, it’s really all about getting better every day,” Miklos said. “In this game, you can’t really be too concerned with what any other team is doing or anyone else.”
Miklos said that the key for the younger girls is to learn and grow with every tournament that they play in.
YSU’s team features eight girls with three sophomores and two freshmen. They finished in the top-4 of every Fall tournament they participated in.
“I feel like it’s an honor and big responsibility,” junior Courtney Shutt said about leadership. “At the same time, it’s hard because you have a lot of good decisions whether it’s the popular decision or not.”
Shutt posted five top-10 finishes last season and placed 16th at Horizon League Championships.
“I think it’s fun because it’s a challenge,” Shutt said. “Since we are friends with these girls, it is fun to see how much they’ve improved since last season. My goal is to make progress every day and to make improvements each day. Also, for us to win the conference.”
This tournament takes place in Sorrento, Florida this year and is only a one-day tournament.
“Most of our players have had their Fall season under their belts,” Miklos said. “We have a lot of very talented players. We need to continue to learn at every event and make the improvements we need to.”
Miklos said that even though a team like Oakland had a strong Fall season, they still are a good team that will compete with them.
“If we put in the work and make the improvements that we need to, we will be in good shape,” Miklos said.
Miklos is currently in his fourth season and has kept YSU at the top of conference every year.
“I want another ring and I want to make as much of a mark as I can,” Barchetti said. “Personally, I am setting the bar high and want to win as often as possible while still improving the team.”
Last season, YSU placed in sixth out of eight teams with a 330 total compared to the 311 that Oakland posted.
“I just focus on our team because we won conference a few years ago,” Shutt said. “I think it just adds fuel under us to push harder. It’s easier to put in a lot of work knowing that we are capable of.”
YSU starts the year in Sorrento, Florida at Red Tail Golf Club on February 20.