While Tuscaloosa, Ala. reeled from the effects of tornadoes that leveled much of the college town, the University of Alabama women's golf team steeled themselves and won the NCAA Division 1 Women's East Regional, led by Stephanie Meadow, a freshman from Jordanstown, Co. Antrim. The Crimson Tide won the 24-team competition by two strokes over North Carolina and will ride the crest of this victory into the Division 1 National Championship next week in College Station, Tex.
Meadow won medalist honors at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla. by six strokes over California's Pia Halbig. She was two strokes off the lead after a 1-under-par 71 in the first round and surged to the top of the leaderboard in the second round by shooting 67, which was low card for the day. She finished up with 69 for the clear victory.
"Stephanie just knows how to win golf tournaments," said Mic Potter, Alabama's head coach. "The funny thing about Stephanie's win is that it was total dominance, but she doesn't have what you would call a dominating style. She isn't really long, doesn't reach the par-5s in two shots, but she keeps the ball in play, avoids big mistakes, has great distance control on her irons and makes a bunch of birdies when she gets her putter going."
Potter also acknowledged the need for her team to deal with the distraction of the havoc wreaked on Tuscaloosa by the storms.
"After what has gone on in Tuscaloosa following the tornadoes, who knew which way it would go for us on the golf course," Potter said. "It was very emotional for the girls. Sometimes you need perspective. It makes you realize that some things aren't as important as life itself, and I think that lesson helped us navigate our way through this tournament."
Bethune-Cookman freshman Matthew McKnight won the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship individual title in a playoff and led the Wildcats to the team championship. McKnight, who hails from Lisburn, Co. Antrim, shot 215 (72-71-72) to finish the 54-hole event at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla. one stroke under par and on even terms with Dominique Worthern of Texas Southern. Bethune-Cookman won the team crown by 12 strokes over Texas-Pan American.
"The team played solid all week, we kicked it into gear today and it feels so good to win this title," McKnight said. "I was able to keep my game steady all week and to do this for my team makes it that much more special."
"Matt's been solid in his last four tournaments, so this isn't a surprise," said Loritz Clark, Bethune-Cookman's head coach. "He's improved his ball striking and when he gets his putting going, he's going to have a good round."
TRACK & FIELD
Kalyn Sheehan, a University of Rhode Island junior from Waterford, won the women's 110-meter hurdles at the Atlantic 10 Conference championships in Charlotte, N.C. She cleared the obstacle course in 13.93, well ahead of the second finisher, who reported in at 14:41. Sheehan also got second place in the 400-meter hurdles.