By Russ Reneau & Erica Reyes
The setting, the scene, nearly all of the actors were the same and the result was not much different.
As it did last year on a sweltering Wednesday at Woodforest Golf Club in Montgomery, Texas, the HBU women’s golf team held off a charge from Central Arkansas to win the Southland Conference Championship.
“It feels great to win back-to-back titles,” head coach David Shuster said. “Woodforest is a special place for us; we feel comfortable here and the team plays well here. It’s indescribable to go back-to-back. It has been a few years since we did it back in the Great West Conference. These are some special ladies. The beauty is, they are all returning next year, so I look forward to the future with this team. A huge part of the ladies’ continued success is due to having a great assistant coach. I can’t express how thankful I am for Coach (Jordan) Jeffers for all he has done for our programs. He is an awesome coach and person to have on our team.”Kaity Cummings ©Juan DeLeon Studio
While the Huskies won by one stroke in 2017, this year’s victory was a little more comfortable with a nine-stroke margin over the Bears, who trimmed three-strokes the lead in the final round. Overall, HBU shot 898 for the three rounds, while UCA shot 907 and Sam Houston State finished third at 916.
Junior Kaity Cummings, who entered the final round in fourth place, fired a 1-under par 70 to charge to the top and claim the individual title with a 54-hole total of 7-over par 220, two strokes ahead of Sam Houston State’s Hannah Alberto. Junior Lexi Brooks, last year’s individual champion, battled back from a disappointing opening round to tie for fifth.
Sophomore Alisa Chong led the tournament through 36 holes, but settled for eight, and freshman Sara Zrnikova, the lone rookie on the squad, finished ninth. Sophomore Caylee Senn tied for 35th.
“The girls did a fantastic job,” Jeffers said. “I am very proud of them. We have done some great things this season, we just kept fighting throughout the year and ended up coming out with the win. Back-to-back victories are huge for our program and what we are trying to do. Coach Shuster has done a great job building this program and I am grateful for him allowing me to be a part of it.” Shuster earned his second-straight conference Coach of the Year honor, while Cummings was a first-team all-conference selection. Brooks made the second team and Zrnikova earned honorable mention. HBU went on to compete at the NCAA Austin Regional at the University of Texas Golf Club May 7-9, finishing 14th, ahead of Miami, Georgetown, Missouri State and East Carolina.