College Women

Women's preview: Ohio Valley Conference

Morehead State won the 2011 Ohio Valley Conference title.
Morehead State won the 2011 Ohio Valley Conference title. ( Courtesy of Morehead State )

Monday, February 6, 2012

Morehead State notched a pair of groundbreaking achievements last season, winning its first Ohio Valley Conference women’s golf championship and qualifying for an NCAA Regional for the first time since the program’s inception in 2008.

Now in their fourth season, the Eagles and head coach Stephanie Barker are determined to build off that success.

“The neat thing about our program is that we started our pretty solid,” Barker said. “We want to be in contention for every conference tournament and we’ve proved we could do that. Now we’re starting to graduate the girls that started this program and it’s really important to make sure that the people coming in are continuing the legacy that the first players started.

“And I think we’ve brought in the right people to do that.”

The Eagles’ roster is a veteran-heavy group that includes three seniors and junior Marisa Kamelgran, who led the team in stroke average (74.6) and top 5s (two) during the fall.

Two seniors – Emma Jonsson and Karolina Tunstiq – have been a part of three top 5 conference finishes at Morehead State.

And with its own golf course (Eagle Trace GC), a strong lineup of degree programs and decent weather, there’s no reason to think that trend won’t continue.

“Since Day 1, we’ve all been on the same page,” Barker said. “I get great support, there’s a lot of interest and it really does help having great facilities. If we continue to do things right, we’re always going to be right there, but so is everybody else.”

While Morehead State is the defending conference champion, Murray State turned in a strong fall campaign, winning two tournaments and adding another runner-up finish. Its 8-over 584 performance at the F&M Bank APSU Intercollegiate was particularly strong.

The Eagles failed to win a fall tournament, but did open the season with a tri-match victory at Eastern Kentucky and closed the fall with a top 5 finish at the Edwin Watts/Palmetto Intercollegiate.

But with a winter of warm weather, Barker is confident her team can keep improving.

“Usually going into the spring I’m nervous because you just don’t know how much you’re going to get outside, so those first couple tournaments you’re knocking off the rust,” Barker said. “But this winter, we’ve gotten outside almost every day.

“We’re always trying to figure out how we can be that much better. If we get everyone going at the same time, it could be really exciting.”

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Top of the class: Murray State

Best player this fall: Marisa Kamelgarn, Morehead State

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Past champions

2007: Jacksonville State

2008: Jacksonville State

2009: Murray State

2010: Murray State

2011: Morehead State

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Conference capsules

Murray State (Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: No. 116)

Only conference team with two tournament victories during the fall. Alex Lennartsson led the squad with a 75.5 stroke average, three top 5s and a low-round of 68.

Morehead State (No. 119)

Marisa Kamelgarn led conference with a 74.6 stroke average during the fall. She also had six rounds of 73 or lower. Morehead State notched three top 5s in five fall events, including a season-opening, tri-match win at Eastern Kentucky.

Jacksonville State (No. 137)

Two runner-up finishes highlighted fall season. Lourdes Lopez’s team-low 66 at the F&M Bank APSU Intercollegiate and three sub-300 team rounds were two more bright spots.

Eastern Kentucky (No. 156)

Lisanne Schmidt, Linda Hogberg and April Emerson tied for the team lead in top 5s with two during the fall. As a team, Eastern Kentucky recorded five, including a win at the 23-team Great Smokies Intercollegiate in September.

SIU-Edwardsville (No. 200)

Won NIU Huskie Classic in October and notched two runner-up and two fifth-place finishes. Ashton Stair shot a team-best 74 during the fall finale Western Illinois Invitational.

Tennessee Tech (No. 204)

Katherine Bell’s 78 stroke average helped Tennessee Tech turn in four finishes of 7th or better last fall.

Austin Peay (No. 207)

Notched a trio of top 5s, including a runner-up finish at the SIUE Intercollegiate in September. Rachel Deaton was the only golfer with a sub-80 stroke average (79.6) during the fall.

Eastern Illinois (No. 227)

Recorded three top 10s in four fall events. Emily Calhoon shot a team-best 77 three times last fall.

Tennessee State (No. 248)

Struggled during the fall, failing to record a finish better than 10th in three tournaments.

Conference championship

April 22-24, GreyStone GC, Dickson, Tenn.

Lance Ringler's prediction

Morehead State. This one will be close. Murray State, Morehead State, Jacksonville State and even Eastern Kentucky could be in the mix come final day at the OVC Championship. I like the defending champs - Morehead State. The Eagles are a program that has been getting better and with a conference title to defend, they should be focused enough to earn the league AQ and get back to the postseason.

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Complete coverage

Wondering how your favorite conference is shaping up headed into the spring season? Who is our favorite to pick up the automatic qualifier? Check out our conference-by-conference break down with our complete coverage page here.

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