By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's golf team continues to climb up the rankings after winning its last two tournaments. After starting the season ranked 89th and have now moved up to the 25th after a stellar fall season thus far.
With an average score as a team of 73.75 for the season and 2.56 subpar
strokes per round, Golfweek has most recently named the women Team of the Week.
The Lions are also ranked No. 1 on Golfstat.com.
The golf team started off the season traveling to Charleston, S.C. for the Cougar Classic where they finished 13th out of 24 teams. Every time the golfers have stepped on the golf course they have improved their placing with each tournament. The Yale Intercollegiate tournament in New Haven, Conn. marked their second tournament where the Nittany Lions finished second out of 16 teams on Sept. 21-23.
The following weekend, Penn State hosted the Nittany Lion Invitational where they dominated the tournament and set a new school record of having the lowest combined team score, shooting 26 shots below their previous record. Penn State also won the Mercedes Benz Intercollegiate tournament in Knoxville, Tenn. and edged out second place Tennessee by four strokes.
"We won our home tournament and then won the Mercedes Benz Intercollegiate tournament so winning back to back was huge for us and exciting because there were a ton of teams ranked above us," Senior Jamie Lavin said. "My freshman year we were ranked in the 100s and now we are ranked in the top 25 so we've had a good showing this season."
In her 21st season as head coach, Denise St. Pierre credits their success both on and off the golf course to their preparation so far this season.
"We've taken a balanced approach to everything we do so that we can play the best that we can," St. Pierre said. "We work on fundamentals in practice and stick with a game plan at tournaments. They take care of their nutrition and have been paying attention to their diet. They have really been committed to paying attention to these things on the road too."
In addition to nutrition, the emotional component of competing has been a focus for the team.
"We've been working on staying in the moment and not getting ahead of ourselves," St. Pierre said. "Especially with golf, they're out there for five hours, so it's important not to get thinking about the end result and stay focused on what's happening now."
To help prepare for the mental side of golf before the day of competition, the team has added a new technique to their regime.
"We do a lot of team workouts and since the spring we've done Jin Shin Jyutsu, which is like a meditation," Lavin said. "This relaxes us and helps calm us down."
Two Nittany Lions have been named Big Ten Women's Golfer of the Week this season. Junior Christina Vosters received the first honor on Sept. 12 following her performance at the Cougar Classic where she shot a career-best of 71 in all three rounds of the tournament. Junior Ellen Ceresko was honored on Oct. 5 after she claimed the individual title at the Nittany Lion Invitational, also scoring a career-best of 69 in rounds one and two and 70 in round three.
Even with strong individual leaders, Coach St. Pierre stresses that one person cannot lead the team alone.
"Statistically Ellen Ceresko has been leading," St. Pierre said. "But it's more about the strength of the team, six girls in their own right are leaders in any given time. They know that not one person has to carry the weight of the team."
With the end of the fall season quickly approaching, Coach St. Pierre is leading the women into the last tournament with momentum on their side.
"We want to finish strong in the last tournament of the fall," St. Pierre said. "We want to climb up the rankings even more and end the fall season on a good note."
From an athlete perspective, Lavin says as a team they want to keep the strong camaraderie they have developed and continue what they have been doing all season.
"There has been so much passion for golf in general this year," Lavin said. "The 'One Team' initiative throughout the whole university has brought our team together. We are playing for each other and to represent Penn State the best that we can. We'll continue to take one tournament at a time, we'll keep practicing the way we have been, and nationals is even a goal for us this year."
Up next, the Nittany Lions will travel to Las Vegas, Nev. to compete at the UNLV tournament Oct. 21-23.