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DSU golf looks to improve on fall season

While other college students travel to beaches and big cities over spring break, the Dickinson State golf teams spent it practicing in Mesa, Ariz. For five days, the Blue Hawk men and women got back into the swing of things, in hopes that spring ...

While other college students travel to beaches and big cities over spring break, the Dickinson State golf teams spent it practicing in Mesa, Ariz.

For five days, the Blue Hawk men and women got back into the swing of things, in hopes that spring would arrive back in North Dakota relatively quickly.

"It was good to get out and swing. They played really well actually. They had been hitting in the simulator. It's not ideal but they still get a lot of swings in so they're able to stay in rhythm and work on some things that way," head coach Thadd O'Donnell said. "Getting out and watching the ball actually fly is a little different feeling than in the simulator. They played real well all the way around."

Unfortunately, spring has yet to show it's face, pushing back the start of the season.

The team was scheduled to tee off at Bully Pulpit in Medora on Sunday, April 8, but will now see competition for the first time on Monday, April 16 in Billings, Mont.

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In the fall, sophomore Jaret Lee, freshman Carter Klein and senior Parker Robinson led the men's team, while juniors Riley Helmick and Aimee Kittleson led the women's team, with freshman Breilyn Riggin closing in.

"We're about where we were when we finished with the conference," O'Donnell said. "Riley, playing down in Arizona, one of the rounds she was low 80s which was a really good round. Carter was in the mid-70s I think every round. Those guys that were leading in the fall are gonna be there again."

At the fall North Star Athletic Association meet in Medora on September 24 and 25, Lee led the men with a two-round score of 164, tying for 23rd, while Klein followed close behind with a score of 165, placing 26th.

On the women's side, Helmick tied for 14th with a score of 182 and Kittleson placed 16th with a score of 183. Riggin followed with a score of 189, good for 20th place.

Overall, the women placed fifth with a score of 759 and the men placed sixth with a score of 670. However, both were about thirty points behind Waldorf, who finished just ahead of the DSU men and women teams.

A gap like that is more or less easy to close with typical season-to-season improvement among the entire team, but lack of competition may affect that.

"Coming into the spring obviously we're not going to have a lot of play," O'Donnell said. "The last three years we've had pretty good springs where our schedule stayed the same, but now we're struggling to get meets in. Our players, the more they play, the more confident they're going to be. ... the mental side of it is going to be the biggest thing for them."

While younger players are showing signs of distress, the seasoned golfers don't seem as worried, according to O'Donnell.

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Zach Miller and Robinson are the pair of seniors on the men's team, while Jordan Sparby and Casey Pearson are the sole seniors for the women.

"Parker and Zach, they've been in there battling all year," O'Donnell said. "You can definitely tell they're seniors. They're confident. They're not anxious while the freshmen like Carter are a little bit anxious because they haven't been able to get out and play. Zach and Parker, they understand the spring season. You just got to be ready. Everybody is going to be on the same boat."

Winter hanging around has stalled spring season start times for a large part of the country, so the Blue Hawks are by no means falling behind everyone else. At this rate, the meet in Billings, Mont. will be the only competition DSU sees before the NSAA meet on Sunday, April 22 and Monday, April 23.

While it will no doubt be a challenge, O'Donnell and his team are already looking forward to the first competition next week.

"They've been lifting all winter so the hard part is going to be when they do get to play, the temperature is not going to be like when they were in Arizona," he said. "You have jackets on, it's a little cooler weather. It does affect the swing a little bit and mentally."

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