-Article Written by Sara Nicholson and Valarie Jenkins
Just over a week ago (April 3-7) in North Augusta, South Carolina, the National Collegiate Disc Golf Championships came to an end. This event made its debut in 2007 with six schools competing in the championships. Now in its 7th year, 63 schools took part in the event, including the largest women’s field in the history of the Championships. The women’s division did not make its appearance until 2011 when Maggie Drews representing the University of Oregon became the first women’s individual medalist.
This year’s event had the highest number of female competitors since its start with 16 ladies from nine schools in contention for the title of national champion. These 16 started the weekend with hopes of taking their place in history with Maggie Drews and Sara Lamberson the two former individual medalists.
Colleen Thompson, representing Illinois State University, started the tournament on fire shooting an incredible six under par in the first round. Going into round two with a five stroke lead Colleen seemed to cool off a bit allowing Krystin Nowicki to make her move shooting the hot round of 62, one over par, on a very difficult course.
After the second round, the cut was made and the stage was set for the top half of the field to challenge 13 more holes to determine a champion. Going into the finals, Colleen said she felt very clear minded, “and [tried to] have nothing but confidence in [her] throws and [her] game in general.”Throwing safe, smooth tee shots and making putts from every possible lie, she had the best round in the finals by six strokes, ultimately winning the title by an astounding nine stroke margin. Despite Colleen’s lead, the other ladies never backed down and gave it their all until the end.
With Colleen’s amazing first round, and Krystin’s outstanding second round, the rest of the field was basically left battling for 3rd, but more important the last spot on the “Women’s All-America Team.” Camille Skweir of Humboldt State, and Sarah Henderson representing Oregon, were tied for 3rd going into the finals. After exchanging six strokes between them in the first two rounds, the finals put on the pressure for the ladies to perform each shot perfectly. Along with the drive to outplay each other, Skweir and Henderson couldn’t rule out the possibility that Sara Lamberson, a highly-competitive former Collegiate Champion was only three strokes back. Lamberson could potentially shoot a great final round to knock them both out of contention for that 3rd All-America Team spot.
From the words of Skweir, her battle with Henderson was shot for shot. “Sarah [was] making clutch putts and I found myself on some pretty wicked lies off the tee, but I’m proud to say I had a few good solid upshots to save par,” she delightfully boasts. In the end, Camille was able to claim that final spot on the Women’s All-America Team.
Full Individual Results Available Here: http://www.pdga.com/tournament_results/103117
Women going the Distance:
For the first time in the history of the event and by request of the ladies, women had a separate division in the distance competition. Four women threw in the distance competition, and respectively crushed throws over 300’. Colleen Thompson won with an impressive line drive measuring 351’. After Colleen’s excellent showing, the whispers of awe spread throughout the spectators, some even asked her for lessons. “I have always wanted to get the point across that woman have game and can easily throw like the guys, [it was] just nice to see it recognized,” Colleen states when asked about her experience in the distance competition.
Women’s Team Spirit:
This year was the second year hosting women’s teams at the National Collegiate Team Championships, and two schools came out to battle for this title; the defending champions, the Mississippi State University Bulldogs and the Oregon State Beavers. The Oregon State team included Katherine Walgrave, Randi Gullickson, Katelyn Cooley, and Ingrid Udd and the ladies representing MSU were Krystin Nowicki, Mitzi Stegall, Pazlee Walker, and Chelsea Palmer.
With three out of four ladies from MSU making the finals in the individual event, OSU had their work cut out for them. This was the second year these teams would battling each other. This MSU team was coming back to defend last year’s title, which was won by an incredible 130 stroke margin. Although they won by such an outstanding amount in the previous year, they still anticipated some good competition this year
The MSU ladies started out the team event with a three stroke lead on the shorter tees at the Old Glory course, but not for long. Oregon made up those strokes in the second doubles round, to tie it up. Krystin (MSU’s #1 spot) admits she looked forward to playing the 3rd round because it was a longer course, and she had been excitedly waiting to play its 1,000’ hole all weekend. After that 3rd round, MSU took the lead back.
They were leading by 28 strokes going in the finals and in the end, the MSU Bulldogs reclaimed their title with a 29 stroke win. To follow tradition (and because of a little peer pressure) they celebrated with a plunge in the Hippodrome Pond!
Krystin Nowicki sums up the event when asked about her experience this past weekend, “What I love about disc golf is that even though everyone wants to win and beat everyone they are playing against, you can’t help but cheer for the other girls. The connections and friendships you make on a Disc golf course are incredible, and I feel so proud and so blessed to be a part of this sport.”
Full Team Results Here: http://www.pdga.com/tournament_results/102529
These 16 competitors came to the NCDGC last weekend with the goals of representing their schools, competing against other women disc golfers, and simply just to have fun. What these ladies may not have realized prior to the event, was that their participation was making history and paving the way for other women competitors to follow.
We encourage all the college ladies out there to start forming teams for the 2014 National Collegiate Disc Golf Championships. Who knows, you too could make history and bring home the Championship title for your school!
A special thank you goes out to Alan Kane and Pete May for their dedication to this amazing event. The collegiate women appreciate your support for the growth of women’s disc golf.