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REND LAKE COLLEGE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MONDAY, APRIL 14, 2014
Ladies Day at RLC Sports Hall: Ace Bivens, Lady Warrior ’04-05 Golf Team
By Bob Kelley
Retired RLC Sports Information Director
INA, Ill. - Tee time is set for 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 26. And, by the way, it will be Ladies Day when the Starter announces the Rend Lake College Sports Hall of Fame Inductees for 2014: one of the first recruits who established high standards for the Women’s Golf program and a group of players to follow which made it even more like Family and embellished the potential and accomplishments.
Introducing the 15th Class to be inducted since the Hall’s inception in 2000 . . .
• Bobbie Jo Bivens was a standout from 1999-2001. Coach Cindy Corn remembers one of the program’s first-year recruits as “fiery,” someone “who always had a look of determination on her face ... definitely a competitor.”
The record book would define this Hall-of-Famer as a winner. “She wanted to win, that’s for sure,” agreed Corn. And she did.
The Petersburg Porta High School product – daughter of a Professional Golfers Association (PGA) Club Pro – remains the only two-time Region XXIV Medalist in the 15 years since RLC began competing. She was her team’s top player in four of five events leading up to the come-from-behind Region crown as a freshman and three of five that spring.
As a sophomore, she captured the 21-team Illinois Wesleyan Classic against four-year rivals with her 76-72–148. She then repeated Region XXIV honors by lowering her scorecard at The Rail Golf Course in Springfield by six with a steady 80-84–164. The defending champion Lady Warriors prevailed by one stroke in a contentious finals rerun over John A. Logan.
Bivens and a strong supporting class finished sixth in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Championships their first spring in 2000, seventh the next. Among her teammates, both seasons, was 2008 RLC Sports Hall Inductee Elizabeth Kasey.
• Lady Warriors dreamed big again in 2004-05 after Rend Lake College claimed a third Region XXIV title and finished a best-yet fifth-in-the-nation the previous year. Four returning players were all key contributors then and hoped to improve on their freshman achievements.
A tall order? Apparently not too tall for the likes of 5-foot-2 1/2 Third-Team All-American Danielle Kaufman, 5-3 Casey Biddinger, 5-4 Nicole Adams, 5-4 newcomer Surita Risseeuw and, certainly not, for 5-9 Ashley Hemann and 5-6 Meredith Mosel. The Lady Warriors took care of business Fall 2004 by setting a Region record by 17 strokes and routing runner-up Logan by 46 with 324-321–645 credentials. South African Freshman Risseeuw (Pretoria) and Kaufman (Nashville) were 1-2 at 77-80–157 and 80-79–159, respectively, followed by All-Region Biddinger (Lafayette, IN / McCutcheon H.S.) in fourth at 82-84–166 and Mosel (DeSoto / Carbondale Community H.S.) in fifth at 85-82–167, with Hemann (Highland) sixth at 88-80–168.
That spring, the determined Midwesterners moved up a notch to No. 4 in the nation thanks in part to a 315-shot second round which equalled the day’s best by frontrunner, host and eventual champion Daytona Beach (FL) Community College. Risseeuw tied for fifth but was relegated to Second-Team All-America status only because of a scorecard playoff with her 77-74-80-81–312. Hemann improved one spot in a year’s time, from 19th to 18th, and was named to the All-Tournament Team with a 91-81-81-80–333 (the same total as in Spring 2004). Kaufman, 12th overall as her team’s top finisher as a freshman at 328 but undermined as a sophomore by a serious leg injury, and Adams, who earned a top-five position with her play during the spring, tied for 20th individually with rounds of 81-84-87-83–335 and 87-76-86-86–335. Biddinger’s 95-86-86-82–349 put her 30th and counted toward the team score two days.
Back to Bobbie Jo Decker, née Bivens. She made her Rend Lake College debut with an impressive fifth-place effort at the University of Southern Indiana Screaming Eagle Classic, where the lone Juco guests among 12 entries were runners-up in the program’s first-ever tournament. No other team could match RLC’s showing with three individuals in the Top 10. In the four-team RLC Mary M. O’Neal Classic, Bivens claimed medalist honors at Rend Lake Golf Course with her 81-77–158, 15 strokes ahead of teammate Candice Vogt. Despite her dominance and the 1-2-3 sweep by teammates, the Lady Warriors needed it all to eke out a 702-703 victory.
On Day Two of the 36-hole Region XXIV Tournament - in wind, rain and cold - Bivens and her upstart team rallied from six down to win by eight strokes and gain a berth in the NJCAA Championships the following May. The medalist flirted with disaster before pulling out a 91-79–170 triumph. Leading up to the grand finale that freshman season, Bivens tied for second individually at the 15-team Bellarmine (KY) Spring Classic when the team was third against four-year foes and was second as RLC blew away four opponents by 35 shots in the McKendree Invitational.
Unfortunately for Bivens, her game and the National Tournament course in Shawnee, Okla., were not a good fit. The player was long off the tee but hit it very high as well; the windy Oklahoma layout was better suited for the lower-to-the-ground driver.
The 2004-05 gang had plenty of experience winning. In addition to duplicating the back-to-back Region titles by Bivens & Co., the Lady Warriors in Fall ’04 defended their championship in the McKendree Invitational, setting 18- and 36-hole team records at 319-313–632, and won the Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville Invite with a 342-340–682, headed by playoff-winning medalists Hemann (156 at McKendree) and Risseeuw (167 at SIUE). Risseeuw won the 14-team Southern Indiana Screaming Eagle Classic with a one-under tournament record 74-71–145 and was third in a 20-team field of four-year programs at Illinois Wesleyan.
“That first team was pretty close-knit,” Corn recalled, “but this team may have been even more so. Almost all of their families came to every tournament, which is rare.
“I think we knew we had something special going. We won some tournaments and then won the Region big. They were fun to coach, too, because we had so much talent on that team.”
There was no jealousy when Risseeuw – who may have been the most talented of them all – joined the veterans. “I think everyone knew how much better the team was going to be with her in the lineup. Plus, everybody loves competition; they took turns stepping up. Everyone was very close. Any time you are competitive and you are winning, it’s fun. They really supported each other.”
Sophomore Courtney Doughty (Benton) returned to the team for the Fall ’04 campaign but graduated early and transferred before Spring ’05 when SIU-Edwardsville pulled off a recruiting coup with Kaufman, Hemann and Biddinger, although Kaufman would finish her career at SIU-Carbondale as a senior.
Election to the RLC Sports Hall of Fame requires a minimum 75 percent (seven) of the votes from a nine-member Selection Committee who consider those former student-athletes and others nominated. The purpose is to recognize those individuals and/or teams who, through leadership and character, have made exceptional contributions to the honor and prestige of Rend Lake College in the field of athletics and who have continued to demonstrate the values learned through participation in intercollegiate athletics in their daily lives.
Media Contact: ReAnne Palmer
Public Information Specialist / SID
REND LAKE COLLEGE
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