Meshke leads Iowa State in a race to 18

Jonathan Lowe

The ISU women’s golf team headed to Lawrence this week expecting to play in a tournament. Instead, it ended up in a shootout.

With rain canceling the first two rounds of the Sunflower Invitational, the event was shortened to 18 holes.

When the dust settled, the Cyclones stood in second place, finishing with a four-player total of 309. Iowa State ended up three shots behind Oklahoma, which had three golfers finish in the top five individually. Kansas State and Northern Iowa tied for third at 311.

The result is one that the Cyclones hope will improve their chances to compete in the postseason.

“I think this gives us a lot of confidence, and we hope that this puts us in contention for regional play,” junior Sarah Gilbert said.

The Cyclones were led by sophomore Lisa Meshke, who found her swing after struggling through her first few events of the year. Coach Julie Manning said her play would be a big confidence booster going into the offseason.

Meshke’s 74 was her best round of golf this fall and landed her in a tie for third at the invitational. Laura Wells also had a top-10 result, shooting 77 to finish in a ninth-place tie.

This is the fourth time in five tournaments this spring that either Wells or Meshke has topped the Cyclones in scoring.

“I think it’s good that we can always count on them to bring in these kind of [lower] scores,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert obtained her first top-20 finish of the season with a 78, while Louise Kenney shot 80 to tie for 26th. Leanne Owens rounded up the scoring by ending her round at 87.

Conditions in Lawrence deteriorated from the start on Monday.

“We played four holes in the morning, and then they told us that it was too cold and rainy to continue,” Manning said. “The course quickly became unplayable.”

Gilbert said that most of the teams were upset with not playing the first two rounds. Her squad, though, was more optimistic.

“We were thinking `Today’s going to be 18 holes and every shot counts’,” she said. “We were ready to play.”

As Tuesday’s round came to a close, Manning knew her team was close to the top of the leaderboard.

“I felt that through 17 holes, we had won the championship,” she said. “On the 18th, the players had a bad hole, and we let it slip through our fingers a little bit. I don’t think it will haunt us, but it would have been nice to take care of that opportunity.”

Even without the tournament win, Manning saw several things that made her upbeat throughout the fall season.

Some of those included the play of Wells and the team’s overall attitude.

“Laura has stepped up and accepted that leadership role that we needed out of her,” she said. “The [players’] expectations are just as high as mine. I feel really good about the direction we’re headed in.”

Another aspect that made the game easier to handle for the players was the amount of chemistry the team seemed to experience.

“I think the team gets along a lot better this year. That helps [us] because everybody wants to be at practice and help out,” Gilbert said. “Everybody has a good time.”

One drawback of the end of a fall season, however, is the fact that winter is upcoming. This means that players won’t be able to practice on area courses due to unfavorable conditions.

“[The coaches] will encourage them to keep the golf club in their hand as much as they can during the winter,” Manning said. “They [also] have some time to catch up academically.”