The Indiana Wesleyan University women’s golf team made history on Sept. 13, when they won the NCCAA Midwest Regional Championship and earned their first trip to the NCCAA National Tournament in October.
This is the first time in the program’s three-year history the Wildcats will compete at the tournament as a team.
In past years, teams would have to submit scores to the NCCAA in order to try to get an invitation to the national championship. This year, teams earned automatic berths to the tournament by winning their regional tournament.
Head Coach Julie Wagner said the new regional format is beneficial to smaller, less established programs like IWU.
“I think that this regional format that they’re doing now is allowing more what I would call ‘middle-of-the-road’ programs an opportunity to compete with a smaller group of people to try to get there,” said Wagner.
Coach Wagner has brought the program a long way since its inaugural season in the fall of 2012. She said she expects it will take several years to become successful within the league, but the team is heading in that direction.
“I don’t like to say we’re too much in our infancy anymore,” said Wagner, “but it’s really going to take [five to six years] to build a team that’s really competitive in the Crossroads League.”
Haley Elenbaas (jr), Jessica Meloche (jr) and Jessica Pegg (jr) have emerged as team leaders. Coach Wagner calls the trio her “leadership team.”
“I’ve seen a lot of good things come out of that,” said Wagner. “They’ve been with me for three years and they kind of understand my expectations and where the team needs to go.”
Maggie Kaiser (so) said the junior leaders have made a positive impact.
This year’s team is the deepest Coach Wagner has ever had, with nine players on the roster.
“We definitely have a deep bench that we haven’t had yet,” said Kaiser. “It’s definitely nice to know when you’re having a rough day that somebody’s going to pick you up.”
The team will compete at the NCCAA National Tournament Oct. 27 – 29 at The Hombre Golf Course in Panama City, Florida.