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Strong Season Sets Up Lancer Golfers For National Championship

by Alex Cyr

The Lancer Women’s golf team proved to be on par with the best programs in the conference this fall by capturing third-place at the Ontario University Association (OUA) championship at the Heron Points Golf Links in Hamilton on October 15-16. The real test for our golfers, however, might be staying in peak form for the challenge ahead.

Led by a bronze medal performance by fourth-year kinesiology and psychology double major Melanie Burgess, the team of five Windsor-Essex locals punched their ticket to the Canadian University and College championship at the FireRock Golf Cup in Komoka (just outside London) on May 28 to 31, 2019.  They now enter a long preparation phase designed to bring them to top golfing shape by springtime.

Adam Wagner, now in his sixth consecutive year of coaching the Lancer Men’s and Women’s golf teams, is proud of his team’s success at the conference level, and commends his players’ consistency; the women finished in the top three at every exhibition tournament leading up to the OUA championship.

“Our strong play all year gave our Women’s team a good feeling going into OUAs,” says Wagner. “And we delivered. We were tied for the lead throughout the tournament or just a couple shots back. It was very encouraging. We worked to have our players as ready as possible every day, despite some windy and cold conditions at OUAs, and they delivered.”

Not one to rest on his team’s laurels, Wagner stresses that this off-season will be crucial in assuring his team’s readiness for the national championship.

“We will have to make sure we are prepared for the spring. The winter is when we make the big changes, if needed, like a swing or grip change,” says Wagner. “The season is only six weeks long (from September to mid-October), so we have no time to switch things up. Now is when we work on the adjustments.”

Burgess, who narrowly missed out on a silver medal, goes into the winter hungry, and with a team goal in mind.

Photo courtesy of The Windsor Star

“Last year was the first time in school history that we qualified for the nationals, and I think we may have been a little overwhelmed,” says the right-handed golfer with a handicap of two. “This year I think our team can be more focused with a goal of a top-six finish out of a field of 12 teams.”

In addition to attending preparational boot camps run by Wagner and assistant coach, Ryan Robillard, Burgess plans to implement extra practice individually throughout the winter. She evens plans to play a few rounds on the championship course in the New Year to familiarize herself with the terrain.

In his recount of the OUA championship, Wagner underlines Burgess’ stellar play.

“Melanie has been one of our more consistent players,” says Wagner. “A little more and she was second, but I am proud of how she, and how the rest of the team, performed. She is expected to lead the way for our team moving forward.”

One of the athletes shadowing Burgess is rookie Sophie Fallea. A LaSalle native and Human Kinetics student saw the opportunity to play alongside golfers of Burgess’ caliber as too propitious to pass up.

“My experience as a rookie has been awesome,” says Fallea who held a handicap of eight over the season.  “I felt that I was able to improve my golf game by playing with varsity players; my teammates have helped along the way. I am very happy with our results this year.”

With all five golfers eligible to compete again in 2019-2020, the future is bright for Wagner and the Lancers beyond next year’s national championship.

“This is only the beginning of the journey and I can’t wait to see where it will end up,” she says.

Whether the group is worthy of a national podium finish is yet to be seen, but one thing is certain. Burgess, Fallea and their teammates will look to carry the momentum they built through the winter and make it to Komoka rested, re-adjusted, and ready for battle.

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