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Experience leads SWCC golfers into spring

Both Southwestern women’s and men’s golf teams return a number of sophomores that will bring back plenty of experience from a season ago as well as three returning national qualifiers.

The Spartan women have five golfers on the roster and two returnees, including Bianca Findlay, who qualified for the NJCAA Div. II National Tournament last season in Mesa, Arizona.

Findlay will be the only returning sophomore that is able to partake in the upcoming spring season as Megan Fairchild of Stuart will likely be out for the season, needing shoulder surgery according to head coach Doug North.

“I highly doubt she will be able to play all spring, which she was pretty upset about,” said North.

With four active golfers this season, Southwestern will still be able to post team scores over the course of the spring schedule.

All three of the freshman have local ties to the area.

Ashton Carter of Creston will look to keep building off a strong high school career with the Panthers.

“(I’m) kind of excited to see what she’s able to kind of complete and figure out this spring,” said North. “It’ll be good to see her post some confidence building rounds.”

Katelyn Belding of Lenox and Sarah Rauschenberg of Dallas Center round out the other two Spartan women golfers for the spring.

Belding, who North noted posted some quality rounds in the fall season, is looking to continue striving to improve scores as the season progresses.

North expects Rauschenberg to be the No. 3 golfer on the team in the spring.

“(We’re) really trending up. I’m really excited about this team,” said North.

The ICCAC will present some challenges as everyone is lumped into one division.

Iowa Western has been the powerhouse program that has won the last three regional titles.

Iowa Central, Des Moines Area and Iowa Lakes are expected to test the Spartans just as much.

Men’s outlook

With Oliver Pearson and Reinhardt Saunderson returning as national qualifiers last year, the early season expectations are high for the Spartan men.

Along with Pearson and Saunderson, SWCC has four other sophomores on the roster as well as two more freshman, adding some competition to its own varsity roster.

The sophomore-heavy lineup finished fourth at regionals last season and was on the brink of a historic finish.

“Very sophomore heavy which is exciting,” said North. “We were five strokes away from qualifying for nationals as a team. That would have been the first ever men’s golf team to qualify for nationals here at Southwestern.”

Saunderson, who is the school leader in scoring average, has continued to knock his scores down from last year.

In the same line, Pearson was a runner-up last season at the regional championship and North knows the top-two and the rest of the team have their sights set on making school history.

Jesper Holke-Farnam of Grundy Center is expected to be in the mix with Saunderson and Pearson at the top of the card.

Another Creston native in Kyle Somers is also expected to compete for plenty of varsity action after not participating last spring due to NJCAA transfer rules.

Aric Szambelan, Tony Cebuhar, Patrick Coughlin and Shaun Richards will be competing for the last varsity lineup spot, according to North.

The ICCAC doesn’t slack on the men’s side either, but North expects Kirkwood to be at the top with Southwestern competing against Des Moines Area, Iowa Lakes and North Iowa Area battling it out right behind the Eagles.

The Eagles have won each of the last three regional titles.

Weather scheduling changes

Southwestern’s first tournament of the spring fell victim to a weather-related cancellation.

The Ottawa Spring Invitational in Lawrence, Kansas scheduled for yesterday and today (Tuesday) was canceled and North is hoping the Spartans can get a few more tournaments on their schedule before the regional championships.

“Not a ton of tournaments,” said North of the SWCC women’s schedule. “With regionals starting in mid-April it’s hard to get a bunch of solid tournament in.”

As of now, the first scheduled SWCC spring outing will be March 29-30 in Maryville, Missouri at the Graceland University Spring Invitational.

The men currently have two more scheduled tournaments than the women.

Men’s schedule

March 29-30 – Graceland University Spring Invitational at Maryville, Missouri

April 5-6 – Wartburg Spring Invitational at Waverly, Iowa

April 8 – 2019 ICCAC Region XI Spring Preview at Ames, Iowa

April 12-13 – NCMC Spring Invitational at Chillicothe, Missouri

May 4-5 – ICCAC Region XI Championship at Ames, Iowa

May 21-24 – NJCAA men’s Div. II National Championship at Plymouth, Indiana

Women’s schedule

March 29-30 – Graceland University Spring Invitational at Maryville, Missouri

April 12-13 – NCMC Spring Invitational at Chillicothe, Missouri

April 19-20, 26-27 – ICCAC Region XI Championship at Ankeny, Iowa

May 13-16 – NJCAA women’s Div. II National Championship at Daytona Beach, Florida

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