Racers finish 23rd at Women’s NCAA East Regional

The Murray State Racers finished their season Saturday by playing the final round of the NCAA Women’s Golf Tournament East Regional in Tallahassee, Fla., at SouthWood Golf Course.

Here are the various story lines as the Racers made their third trip to the NCAA Tournament as the represented the Ohio Valley Conference.

Delaney Howson Goes Out In Own Class
As MSU’s only senior, Howson was the steadying force this season for the Racers. She led the OVC and was 53rd in NCAA D-I coming into the event with a 73.2 scoring average.

After being named All-OVC and OVC Freshman of the Year in 2011, Howson leaves MSU as it’s only four-time all-league selection. She is the program’s seventh OVC Player of the Year in the 21 seasons the Racers have been playing women’s golf.

Murray State Head Coach Velvet Milkman honored Howson after the final round.

“What a career Delaney Howson had here at MSU,” Milkman said. “Her play speaks for itself and her performance in the classroom was excellent. I’m going to miss her being on our team, but I know she’s going to be successful in whatever she wants to do in her future. She exemplifies our goal at Murray State, leave with a championship ring on one hand and a diploma on the other.”

Howson, from Newmarket, Ontario, leaves MSU with multiple academic honors and graduates from MSU as the top senior in the finance department.

She was in the hunt for one of the two exempt individual spots for next week’s NCA Championship after she carded a first round even par 72. However, she faltered in a wind-swept second round to a 5-over-par 77 which pushed her back to 55th place overall. But like a champion, she came back in today’s final round and made the turn 1-under and finished that way with a 71 to finish 36th in the field of 126 players.

She also sets the MSU mark for best finish at an NCAA event ahead of Joyce Trus who finished 69th in 2009. Andrea Downer was MSU’s best in 2010 with an 85th place finish.

The NCAA Experience
The Racers were seeded 22nd in the field of 24 teams, as they were at Columbus, Ind., in 2010. MSU finished 23rd with scores of 307-316-310=933, which was 90 strokes better than that 1023 they shot at OtterCreek GC. By the way, MSU’s NCAA regional score in 2009 at Columbus, Ohio at The Scarlet Course was 990.

“We talked yesterday that Racers fight back when things aren’t going well and I’m proud of the way we did that today,” Milkman said. “We all wanted to play better than we did, but this was a valuable learning experience for everyone that teed it up on Wednesday when we started this with our practice round. It is also fitting that Delaney had the opportunity to finish her career here at the NCAA level.”

After Howson at 36th place, the Racers saw Sydney Trimble and Jackie Van Meter split 116th place. Trimble had scores of 77-79-80=236, while Van Meter carded rounds of 77-82-77=236. Abbi Stamper placed 124th with scores of 81-78-84=243 and Sophie Hillier was in 125th place with rounds of 83-85-82=250.

MSU’S Championship Tradition Continues
The Racers’ third appearance in the NCAA’s also means the decorated MSU program won their ninth Ohio Valley Conference title for women’s golf.

MSU was victorious in April in Muscle Shoals, Ala., and they did it with the best player in the league and a pair of freshmen and sophomores. Many thought the Racers might be a year away from hoisting the OVC trophy, so this season sends the program into the 2014-15 season with optimism.

Coach Milkman’s run of championship golf and academics is now 21 seasons. Every student-athlete that has come through her program at MSU and stayed for four years has left with their diploma and won at least one OVC championship.

“I am very proud of that accomplishment,” Milkman said. “It’s the reason why I do this. There is no greater sense of accomplishment that I can get than seeing the student-athletes come through and be great in the classroom and great on the course.”

Top Eight Moving On To NCAA Finals 
Vanderbilt was the run-away winner at Tallahassee as they started with a record 277 in round one. Their 840 total beat out second place South Carolina by 14 shots. VU and USC join NC State and Duke, each at 860 and Stanford (866), Virginia (869), Tulane (871) and Campbell (879) as the eight squads advancing to next week’s finals in Tulsa.

Pepperdine (880), Baylor (881), host Florida State (882) and East Tennessee (882) were the odd teams out.

Vandy’s Jenny Hahn was the individual medalist with scores of 68-73-66-207, ahead of Baylor’s Hayley Davis who had rounds of 72-71-67=210.

The top two individuals not associated with the eight advancing teams also go to the NCAA finals. Those are: Grace Na of Pepperdine, who had scores of 79-72-71=212 and ETSU’s Gabriella Wahl who had rounds of 68-75-69=212.

From: MSU media relations

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