MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. (4/19/17) – The Arkansas State women’s golf team finished fifth among 10 teams at the Sun Belt Conference Championships, shooting a final-round 294 Wednesday to give the Red Wolves a season-best 900 score for the three-day tournament.
A-State’s fifth-place showing matched its finish a year ago, which at the time was the program’s best finish at the league tournament since 2004. The Red Wolves’ 900 was their best three-round total at the conference championships since posting an 898 in 2011.
Arkansas State began play Monday by shooting a 293, its second best single-round score of the season, which placed it fourth. However, the Red Wolves followed with a 313 the next day and fell two places in the standings. The squad rebounded today with a strong final round that helped it climb one place to fifth.
“We had three beautiful days of some quality golf,” said A-State head coach M.J. Desbiens Shaw. “It was unfortunate that yesterday we didn’t perform as well, but I’m proud of all five of our players for coming back today and putting up a good score on the board. I think that definitely showed the kind of character they have, and how strong they are under pressure.”
The Red Wolves were led by three players finishing among the top-25 leaders, including sophomore Beth Ann Compton in a tie for seventh place, sophomore Aracelly Jimenez Rios in a tie for 19th and senior Maci Brooks in 23rd.
Compton finished among the top-10 players at the league tournament for the second straight season after placing ninth a year ago. The 2017 Second Team All-Sun Belt Conference selection carded a 71, her lowest round of the tourney, today and finished with a combined 220 (73-76-71). She narrowly missed out on all-tournament honors, which are awarded to the top six finishers.
“Beth Ann was close to being named all-tournament, but the good thing was that she was recognized on the all-conference team, and her effort all year has proven she is a great player who has stayed consistent,” said Desbiens Shaw.
Jimenez Rios posted a final-round 70, the lowest single-round score of the tournament by an A-State player. A 2016 First Team All-Sun Belt Conference choice, she shot a combined 224 (76-78-70) while collecting her fourth top-20 finish of the season.
Brooks matched her season-best 54-hole score with a 226 (72-77-77), which included a low round of 72. She picked up her fourth top-25 finish of the season.
“We had a goal today to play strong for our senior, Maci, and our graduate assistant coach, Minhee (Park), who is in her last season with us,” said A-State head coach M.J. Desbiens Shaw. “I was excited for Beth Ann to make the top-10 for the second straight year (at the Sun Belt Conference Championships), and I think her and Aracelly with their scores today helped put our team score closer to where it should be.”
The Red Wolves first and third round scores were among their best of the season, but they were hurt by their second-round total that was at least 19 strokes above each of their other two rounds. At the same time, A-State was one of seven teams that saw its score rise from the first to the second rounds.
“This is the type of course where if you aren’t precise off the tee, it can be very costly,” Desbiens Shaw said. “There was some of that, and I think pin placement played a role in the number of putts and scores in the second round.”
The Red Wolves finished 14 strokes behind Texas State and Appalachian State, which tied for third place. Troy shot an 878 on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail’s Fighting Joe Course to claim the tournament title, while Georgia State finished runner-up with an 883.
Also competing for A-State, junior Emma Miller finished 33rd with a 231 (72-82-77), and freshman Marisa Marquez placed tied for 44th with a 240 (76-88-76).
Not only did A-State end its 2016-17 campaign with its third best three-round score (900) over the last six seasons, it posted a 76-55-3 record for its most victories since 2013-14. The Red Wolves produced their best back-to-back showings at the Sun Belt Conference Championships since 2003 and 2004. The team also collected five top-five finishes this year, its most since 2009-10.
“I think it shows that we are obviously getting stronger every year,” Desbiens Shaw said. “Our players are maturing, learning a lot about how to manage the game and getting mentally stronger, and really that’s what we’ve talked about all year. We’re becoming more consistent, and that’s a testament to how hard our players work and practice.”
ARKANSAS STATE RESULTS
Place, Name (RD 1-RD 2-RD 3—Total)
5, Arkansas State (293-313-294—900)
T7, Beth Ann Compton (73-76-71—220)
T19, Aracelly Jimenez Rios (76-78-70—224)
23, Maci Brooks (72-77-77—226)
33, Emma Miller (72-82-77—231)
T44, Marisa Marquez (76-88-76—240)