By Coach Kevin Rhoads
COLUMBUS, Ohio - May 7-9 found the Harvard women representing the Ivy League at the NCAA Central Regional in Columbus, Ohio. They earned the right to be there two weeks ago with their second consecutive Ivy Championship victory. Ohio State was the host team at the Central Regional, and the tournament was contested on their famed Scarlet Course. Noted as one of the best University courses in the country, the Scarlet is an Alistair McKenzie gem that was renovated by Jack Nicklaus in the last decade.
Played at 6,250 yards with rain making it play longer, the course was a huge challenge for the field. Well-bunkered in both the fairway landing areas and around the big, fast, sloping greens, the course put a premium on accuracy as well as length, and demanded a very accomplished short game when greens were inevitably missed. Twenty-one teams were competing for a berth to NCAA finals, to which the top eight teams in the field would advance.
Day one saw pretty high scores from all the teams in the field except UCLA, whose four-under par team score led the field by 11 shots. Though there was a threat of lightning and rain all afternoon, the weather was for the most part not a factor. The team played a pretty good round in general, with Christine Cho ('12, La Crescenta, CA) shooting 76, Emily Balmert ('09, San Diego, CA) shooting 78, and Ali Bode ('09, Pittsburgh, PA) shooting 79. Both Claire Sheldon ('10, Milton, MA) and Mia Kabasakalis ('11, Alameda, CA) struggled a bit, shooting 85 and 87 respectively. With one more score in the 70's, Harvard would have been in the middle of the field. Instead, their 318 total left them in 19th place.
Day two needed to be a moving day for the Lady Crimson to have any chance of being near the top eight. In contrast with their ability to play well when they needed to so many times this year, it was not to be. Though the team played pretty solidly in round two, they couldn't quite negotiate the more difficult day-two pin positions in order to put up a low score. Balmert led the team for the day, shooting 79. Sheldon came back with 80, followed by Cho with 81. Bode and Kabasakalis both shot 83. Harvard's 323 meant that couldn't improve on their 19th position. They still had the will to compete the last day, but their dream of contending for a spot in the top eight was gone.
Day three saw the toughest conditions in which the team played all year. The hole locations were brutal, but the wind was by far the biggest factor. With Harvard playing in the last wave of tee-times, they got the worst of the wind, with gusts consistently blowing 30 - 40 mph. The wind took a toll on all parts of the game, including putting! Balmert was able to salvage an 80 on day three, fittingly leaving her as the low Harvard player in her final collegiate tournament. Cho was next, shooting 84, and wrapping up her stellar freshman season. Bode and Sheldon both shot 87, and Kabasakalis shot 93. Harvard shot 338, which was a pretty normal score in the afternoon, and could not gain any ground. Their 979 total put them in 19th position, the same place that they finished in last year's Regional at Texas.
While the team would have liked to have done better, they could not muster any of the magic that was present during this otherwise magical season. The burden of Final Exams and papers, a very busy spring season, and an overall lower number of repetitions than the rest of the field took its toll. The team holds its head very high, however, as the entire year was an enormous success - one that will be difficult to ever match.
The Lady Crimson's season is now finished, and they have to bid farewell to their two seniors, captain Ali Bode and four-time All-Ivy player Emily Balmert. Two of the program's most decorated players, they will be sorely missed as they move on to life after Harvard. We send the program's best wishes to them as they embark on their next adventures.
Par: 72 72 72 Daily Low Round
Yardage: 6246 6246 6246 Daily Leader Both
Fin Team Scores
1 UCLA 284 290 303 877 +13
2 Purdue University 295 289 312 896 +32
3 Wake Forest Univ. 298 295 306 899 +35
4 Oklahoma State 297 292 312 901 +37
5 Michigan State U. 295 300 310 905 +41
6 New Mexico, U. of 301 296 315 912 +48
7 Ohio State Univ. 306 293 318 917 +53
8 Chattanooga 303 299 320 922 +58
9 Georgia State Univ. 303 305 318 926 +62
10 Washington, U. of 308 300 319 927 +63
11 Louisville, Univ. of 308 307 317 932 +68
12 Kent State 305 304 325 934 +70
13 Kentucky, U. of 308 301 326 935 +71
14 Stanford University 310 304 332 946 +82
15 North Carolina State 312 307 335 954 +90
16 Notre Dame, U. of 316 305 338 959 +95
17 Michigan, U. of 312 321 327 960 +96
18 Illinois State Univ. 311 313 339 963 +99
19 Harvard University 318 323 338 979 +115
20 Murray State Univ. 322 327 341 990 +126
21 Fairleigh Dickinson 328 321 346 995 +131
Fin Name School Scores
T 57 Emily Balmert Harvard 78 79 80 237 +21
T 75 Christine Cho Harvard 76 81 84 241 +25
T 95 Ali Bode Harvard 79 83 87 249 +33
99 Claire Sheldon Harvard 85 80 87 252 +36
106 Mia Kabasakalis Harvard 87 83 93 263 +47
In Their Own Words: Kevin Rhoads Recaps Harvard's Ivy Championship Season & NCAA Tournament Run
May 11, 2009