By Nathanael Hawthorne
The Youngstown State University women’s golf team endured a turbulent fall season.
The Penguins finished fourth at the 2019 Horizon League Golf Championships and was named the No. 2 team in the Horizon League spring preseason poll.
The team medaled in two of the five events it participated in during the fall semester. Leading the way for the Penguins was sophomore Puthita Khuanrudee.
The reigning Horizon League Freshman of the Year participated in all five events and posted an average of 75.1. She shot a 71 on three different occasions, which was the second lowest of the season.
While individuals saw success last semester, the team didn’t finish higher than fifth place in the last three invitationals it competed in. Penguins coach Nate Miklos said the team is missing one element: It needs to have someone consistently in the No. 5 spot as a “key contributor.”
In collegiate golf, five participants play each round. The lowest four scores are counted.
“We had several different players that were in that spot at times play really well,” Miklos said.
He said the team is talented and deep.
“One of the bigger keys for spring is just for someone to really step up in that fifth spot and really be able to contribute,” Miklos said.
For the spring, the team believes it’s prepared for the upcoming invitational.
“We are ready for what’s coming up next,” Khuanrudee said.
Sophomore Jenna Vivo echoed Khuanrudee’s statement and said the Penguins have high potential.
“We all work really hard. We’ve been in [the Watson and Tressel Training Site] for hours on end each day. … We have the ability to become conference champions if we continue to do what we’re supposed to,” she said.
The Penguins are unique in their youth — there are only three upperclassmen. With the passing of the fall season, though, many of the young players’ nerves have faded.
“I expect big things from them. They’ve all been working really hard,” Miklos said. “[Now], they have a little experience under their belt, which helps a ton.”
He said the spring golf season can be a difficult transition because the team practices indoors throughout winter.
Vivo said the fall season was a learning opportunity for the younger players. She said having multiple freshmen in the lineup placed self-induced pressure on the Penguins.
“That’s a learning opportunity for us to tell the freshmen to just play as another tournament and just go out there and do what we’re capable of,” Vivo said.
The team starts the spring season March 1 in Kiawah Island, South Carolina, at the Kiawah Island Spring Classic.