Lady Eagles looking for breakthrough fall in women’s golf

Audrey Meisch is one of two returning starters this fall for OC's women's golf team.
Audrey Meisch is one of two returning starters this fall for OC's women's golf team.

OKLAHOMA CITY (Sept. 6, 2013) – The second-place trophies are starting to fill up the office of Oklahoma Christian women’s golf coach Greg Lynn. Nine times during the program’s first two years of competition, the Lady Eagles have finished second in a tournament.

This fall, Lynn believes, is when OC will break through and win – and win often. The Lady Eagles’ first chance to do so will be Monday and Tuesday, when they play in the Hawks Creek Invitational at Hawks Creek Golf Club in Fort Worth, Texas.

Lynn’s lineup changed a bit at the last minute, as senior Catherine Odgers, a returning National Christian College Athletic Association All-American, is taking a leave of absence from the program. Still, Lynn thinks the Lady Eagles will remain a squad that will be a threat to win any event in which they’re entered.

“I plan on winning the very first one,” Lynn said. “And I plan on winning at nationals. That’s my plan. That doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, but I’m a big believer in that if you don’t set goals, you won’t reach them. My goal is for this team to be a constant winner this year. I think they’re capable of it. But we’ve got to go out and do it.”

At the top of OC’s lineup again will be the best player in the Heartland Conference and one of the nation’s top small-college golfers, junior Anna Arrese Cortadellas. In 16 career tournaments, she has won five times and, remarkably, never has finished outside the top 10.

Already an eight-time national player-of-the-week selection (two NAIA, six NCCAA), Arrese Cortadellas has twice earned All-America honors, from the NAIA as a freshman and the NCCAA as a sophomore. She never shot a round worse than 79 as a sophomore and her stroke average of 74.8 ranked her seventh among players at the Division II level.

“Anybody who watches Anna and sees what she does and tries to copy that – what she does, how she approaches shots, how she thinks, how she plans to play – they will be improved,” Lynn said. “Anna is very professional in her preparation. We are blessed to have her.”

OC’s other returning starter is sophomore Audrey Meisch. The athletic 6-footer began last fall as the Lady Eagles’ No. 5 starter but just missed earning NCCAA All-America honors and showed consistent improvement. She’s been among the team leaders in preseason qualifying for this fall, an indication of how hard she’s worked, Lynn said.

“Audrey has improved so much over last year,” Lynn said. “Last year, she improved a lot. She is very athletic and very strong.”

Among the incoming freshmen, three are expected to contribute immediately. India Matthews originally signed with an NCAA Division I program before arriving at OC and is a long hitter with a strong short game. She is ranked among the top 50 women’s amateur players in her native Australia.

Allison Sell starred at nearby Edmond North High School, capturing Class 6A prep medalist honors as a junior in 2012 and finishing in the top 10 at the state tournament as a sophomore and senior. This past summer, she reached the quarterfinals in the Oklahoma Golf Association’s Junior Girls Championship.

Dana Todd is one of Canada’s top junior players and is coming off a summer during which she won an age-group title in the Manitoba Optimist Junior Open (qualifying her for the prestigious Optimist International Junior Golf Championship) and took top honors in the Manitoba Women’s Junior Championship.

Canada’s climate kept Todd from playing as many rounds as Lynn would like and he thinks she’ll show consistent improvement the more she has the chance to play as a collegiate golfer.

Two players who redshirted last season, freshman Emery Rakestraw and sophomore Alyssa Schneider, also figure to compete for playing time, along with incoming freshman Mindy Stafford. Of the three, Schneider has the most experience, having played in six tournaments for the Lady Eagles as a freshman in 2011-12.

All should have the opportunity to see action at some point.

“I have no idea what is going to happen,” Lynn said. “They’re all really close. … Everybody besides Anna and Audrey is really an unknown right now.”

After the trip to Fort Worth, OC will play in two local tournaments at Lincoln Park Golf Club, sandwiched around a trip to suburban Phoenix for the Mustang Intercollegiate, hosted by Western New Mexico. The fifth and final tournament of the fall will be the NCCAA Championship in Panama City Beach, Fla., an event at which OC finished second last year.

The gap between second and first isn’t that big, Lynn said, “and when you start off realizing you have the best player in the tournament on your team … what do you have to do to win? You need to have three of the other four girls to step up and play well. That’s going to start happening.”