Hannah Hendrickson says her golf team is probably going to have to readjust its expectations in the coming days.
Worry not, it’s a task they will relish.
“The women set a lot of goals going into this season and we’ve just kind of crushed all of them, so we might need to reset some goals, I think,” said Hendrickson, who’s in her first season as women’s coach at Kansas Wesleyan. “Got to keep pushing.”
Led by three top-10 finishers the Coyotes posted a 323 team total and dominated the KWU Fall Invitational on Tuesday at the Salina Country Club. Wesleyan completed the 36-hole event with a 334-323—657 total, easily outpacing runner-up Baker, which finished 30 strokes behind (339-348—687).
KWU’s Avery Watkins (JR/Frisco, Texas) and Corey Mein (SO/Liberal, Kan.) tied for third individually at 162 – Watkins shooting 79-83 and Mein 85-77. Mikaela Johnson (SR/Salina, Kan.) was 10th (80-87—157) and Hannah Hart (FR/Ventura, Calif.) tied for 11th (90-81—171). Kristen Sayyalinh (JR/Rockford, Ill.) was the fifth score with a 95-82—177 that tied her for 14th.
Two individuals also played for the Coyotes, Aidan Richmond (SO/Keller, Texas) placed seventh with a 165 (80-85), and Thalia Ramirez (FR/Leawood, Kan.) tied for 28th with a 196 (99-97).
“I think the biggest thing, obviously, home course,” Hendrickson said. “We know the layout, we know the greens. They knew the goal going in was to win and they weren’t going settle for less. I’m just really proud of that mentality – that go for it, go for all of it.
“The consistency was there and they were in it, they were completely dialed in.”
It was the Coyotes’ second consecutive team title after winning the Evangel Fall Invitational September 15, in Springfield, Mo.
Hendrickson said Tuesday’s perfect weather conditions were a bonus after a wind-blown opening round.
“(Monday) it was such a battle, but coming out today they could just relax,” she said. “There wasn’t really a whole lot they had to do but play.”
Baker’s Mia Tovkach was the individual champion with a 77-82—159 score. Thitapha Iamtragul of Dodge City Community College also shot 159 (78-81), but Tovkach was awarded the championship on a scorecard playoff.
Hendrickson attributes her team’s play to increasing familiarity between her and her athletes.
“I really feel like I’ve settled in a little bit more as a coach,” she said. “I’m more comfortable on the golf course, I’m getting to know the newer players and how they play. That’s always kind of the biggest thing, knowing how your players’ approach the golf course and how to get into their heads and decide what the best thing to say is and when the best time is.
“I really feel like as a whole they’re getting to know me and I’m getting to know them. That’s where we’ve taken off.”
Hendrickson, a former standout player at Salina South High School and Wichita State, said it’s also a matter of her team doing what she says and not what she did during her playing career.
“Hannah the player had a long memory,” she said, with a smile. “She could recall some bad shots and couldn’t really remember the good ones. Now as a coach I’m preaching the opposite. Forget those bad shots, they’re over and done, you can start over.
“As long as my players can buy into that more than I did they’ll be fine. I made the mistakes, learn from them.”
The Coyotes will compete in the Kansas Conference’s Match Play tournament October 5-6, at Mariah Hills Golf Course in Dodge City in their next competition. They’ll close the fall season October 19-20, at the Park University Virginia McCoy Invitational at The Deuce at the National Golf Club of Kansas City.