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NDSU's women's golf team climbs to top of the Summit

FNS Photo by Carrie Snyder Amy Anderson tees off on the 13th hole at the Fargo Country Club August 25 in south Fargo.

FARGO -- It was four years ago when a pair of North Dakota State women's golfers were asked on a few occasions if they were part of a varsity program. The reality was it was on the low end of the scale in comparison with other female sports at NDSU.

While volleyball, soccer, softball and track and field were winning or on track to win Summit League championships, golf was just hacking along.

"I remember my freshman year people would see me with my bag on campus and ask if we had a club team," said senior Cydney Hasselberg. "They had no idea we had a team."

The team got an instant shot in the arm in Hasselberg's freshman year when she enrolled with Amy Anderson, who also remembers getting many of the same looks from other students.

"I haven't gotten any of those questions for quite a while now," she said.

Winning has answered that question. Today, the Bison men's and women's teams are in Keller, Texas, for the Summit League Championships. The Bison women, winners of their last two tournaments, are a favorite to win at Sky Creek Ranch golf course.

For Anderson, who was home schooled and didn't play team golf until she got to college, it's been a season to remember in more ways than breaking Juli Inkster's collegiate career record for most tournament victories.

"This was the first team I was ever really a part of and there were certain things I had to learn coming into a team," she said. "But it's been so much fun and it's your built-in family. When you have a problem or something is going well, they're the first ones you tell."

Her teammates have done their talking on the course, too. Whereas the program the first two years was all about Anderson, it's been more than that the last two seasons. The senior from Oxbow has improved her season average by one shot since her freshman season.

The team has improved by an average of 17 shots.

"There has been a lot of focus individually and that's great and all," Anderson said, "but as a team we have progressed so much over the last four years. Everybody on this team is doing everything they can and it's really been fun to be part of that."

Bison head coach Matt Johnson said the consistency of the Nos. 2 through 5 players has taken the biggest leap. The average score of those players are all within one stroke of each other, which besides Hasselberg and Anderson consists of junior Abby Knutson, sophomore Sarah Storandt and freshman Hailey Boner.

And nobody has appreciated that more than Anderson.

"I'm happy she gets to have that experience with the team," Johnson said. "To get some wins and be in contention going into a conference meet, I think that adds a new element for her. She's always been a team-based player every year but to have what we're doing this year is important to her."

And they've done it without setting foot on a Fargo golf course this spring because of the poor weather. It means they've made the most out of 26 total rounds -- 18 in tournaments, six in practice and couple more over spring break.

"We're a very humble team," Hasselberg said. "We realize people are going to have their bad days and that's how golf goes. If we win conference, we do. If we don't, that's how it falls into place."