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Golf hopes for improvement with new blood, same leader

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Denton’s Athletics Division

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The North Texas women’s golf team expects to achieve further success in the 2019-20 season. By doing so, they must increase their national ranking and play against tougher teams this season. The team is currently ranked 89 out of the 260 NCAA Division I teams in the country. With a higher ranking comes better recruitment and earning their first bid to the NCAA regionals and nationals tournaments.

“Being ranked in the top 50 would be great,” senior golfer Lauren Cox said.

Cox had a historic 2018-19 season where she earned the second most birdies in North Texas women’s golf history. Cox set the single season program record last year for scoring average and was named to the First Team All-Conference Team.

Additionally, she is the second individual player in North Texas history to play in the NCAA tournament, which was held in May of this year.

Her goals this season are to beat her previous scoring average, 73.90, and break the record for the most amount of birdies in a season. Last season she had 80, placing her at 176th place among 5,623. Along with this, she said she also wants to see the team’s ranking go up.

“It’s been amazing,” Akers said. “You won’t talk to a nicer person, a better person than her. She works hard, she does her job in the classroom, to see the improvement that she’s made her first year to last year is unbelievable.”

The squad returned four players and welcomed three new players this year: sophomore Katie Finley, freshman Marija Jucmane and freshman Emilie Ricaud. Akers said the newcomers will give the team more depth to compete.

“They’re definitely gonna impact our lineup,” Akers said. “We had a solid squad last year but we lacked depth.”

Finley, a transfer from Texas A&M, carries a year of experience under her belt. Akers said he likes the fact that she started on her team for nearly the entire year.

“She’ll be very versed with the type of competition that we’re playing,” he said.

North Texas will compete in four tournaments in the fall and five in the spring. Notable opponents include Southern Methodist, Houston and Texas, which is ranked No. 1 in the nation. Akers said that playing up to the competition is necessary in improving their own ranking. Another goal of his is to win the NCAA bid as a team for the first time.

“We wouldn’t have scheduled it had we not believed we could get there,” Akers said.

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During the summer, four of the players won individual tournaments. Though they aren’t allowed to train with Akers in the offseason, he said that they practiced hard and had a lot of success.

“We’ve got a squad that wants to go to the next level where they’re gonna put in the time in college and get better,” Akers said.

Graduate assistant coach Krista Puisite said the higher ranked teams aren’t necessarily better than North Texas.

“I don’t think that their individual players are that much better than our players,” Puisite said. “I think we have a really good chance at competing and beating many of the teams that may be ranked better.”

According to Akers, the team has risen more than 100 spots since Akers arrival before the 2016-17 season. Akers and Puisite both said that it is realistic to move up to the top 50 by the end of this season.

“I think we’re in a perfect position to earn a large bid to the NCAA regionals at the end of the year,” Akers said. “We have the talent, we have the depth and then we have the schedule.”

North Texas’ first match of the season will be held against Midwestern State University on Aug. 30 at Robson Ranch in Denton. Akers sees Friday’s match as an opportunity to evaluate the team and plans to treat it as a qualifier against Midwestern State.

“We set a lot of records over the past two years [and] we want to continue to rewrite the record book,” Akers said.

Featured ImageMean Green senior Lauren Cox practices her putting at UNT’s indoor golf practice facility. Image by Will Baldwin

Article Originally Published by on North Texas Daily

Source: North Texas Daily

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