Golfers home today as league tourney nears
There are two groups teeing off on consecutive holes. While one group tees off, another is practicing their putts on the green. There are smiles, range finders and plenty of people out and about on the course at Mill Creek.
The winter weather has broken for the most part and Youngstown State’s women’s golf program is winding down the 2020-21 season while preparing for the Horizon League tournament toward the end of April.
Before then, the Penguins will defend their home turf at Youngstown Country Club in a dual match today against league foe Cleveland State. It is YSU’s final tuneup before heading out to Indiana for the league event.
Two of the golfers on the course are former Boardman standouts, YSU juniors Jenna Vivo and Britney Jonda. They have known each other for quite a long time, but last offseason was a bit different with the COVID-19 pandemic eliminating the golf schedule last spring.
“I played a lot of golf with local players like Jonda and my cousin Brian (Terlesky), who’s on the YSU men’s team,” Vivo said about last summer “We just tried to get out as much as we can. A lot of the golf courses were closed until late May or June, but we had a lot of fun, despite the circumstances.
“It was nice to have them to play with and have something else to do besides sitting in our house and doing nothing.”
Like all other sports, the COVID-19 pandemic has added extra precautions within tournaments — some courses have rules over taking the pins out and whether or not rakes are placed within the bunkers, among other odds and ends.
One major format change this spring has been the fact that YSU has played within groups of five at most of their tournaments instead of playing within a group of golfers from other universities — a change that’ll also apply to the Horizon League tournament.
Jonda used the down time going into the season to work on different aspects of her game, along with seeing improvement within different elements this spring.
“Last spring we had a lot of time to go out and practice and I think that our game has gotten better,” she said. “Definitely my short game, I practiced a lot on my short game over the summer, and I think it’s gotten a lot better.”
Under normal circumstances the Penguins compete in a slate of events during the fall, including the Roseann Schwartz Invitational at Mill Creek, something that they had to make do without last year. That has led to adjustments since their first event back in late February.
“Normally in the fall season, we typically play about five events, it’s a great opportunity for us to just work on a bunch of things that we see in competition,” coach Nate Miklos said. “Not having this year, it really hit me this spring where we’re making some little mistakes in competition this spring that normally we would have have worked on in the fall.
“Plus, without that fall competition, we have a very deep team this year and normally in the fall season we would have worked out some of the lineup, just gave them more opportunities to differentiate where they’re at. Now we’re trying to do more of that right now.”
The Penguins have competed in six events so far this season, including a win at the Nevel Meade Collegiate tournament hosted by Cleveland State at Prospect, Ky. In that event YSU beat out other Horizon League teams such as Oakland, IUPUI, Purdue Fort Wayne, Cleveland State, UIC and NKU.
YSU was second in the Horizon preseason spring poll behind the Jaguars of IUPUI.
Today’s match will give the Penguins an opportunity to play in front of their parents, many of whom travel throughout the season. It is the first home tournament for YSU since Sept. 2-3, 2019.
When it comes down to it, Vivo is thankful for the opportunity to be on the course.
“I think it’s nice, especially since we haven’t had a home tournament in so long because of COVID,” she said. “I think we all appreciate that and our families will be able to come out and watch for once, and not have to travel too far, so we’re looking forward to that.”