WEST FRANKFORT -- They came from near and far, youth and experience alike, to lead the Rend Lake College Lady Warriors to their third Region XXIV Golf Championship in the team’s five-year existence. In doing so, they made it look easy.
Freshman Danielle Kaufman, from nearby Nashville, led a 1-2-3 sweep in combination with 25-year-old South African freshman Mia van Rooyen and sophomore Carrie Paul (Farina / Flora High School) as Coach Cindy Corn’s charges overcame miserable playing conditions Tuesday at Franklin County Country Club to make life miserable for two-time defending champion John A. Logan College.
A 36-stroke victory over the runner-up Lady Vols was accomplished thanks to a solid, 339-344--683 four-player total for the Champion Lady Warriors, compared to 347-372--719 for Logan. A distant third was the only other entry, Lincoln College, at 413-409--822.
The resounding triumph sends Rend Lake College to next spring’s National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Women’s Golf Championships. RLC finished sixth in the nation in its inaugural season of 1999-2000, seventh the following year and 10th in 2002, when it advanced all five of its players as the regional bridesmaid.
Region XXIV Medalist Kaufman, mired in a personal slump in recent weeks, broke out in impressive fashion. The Nashville multiple-sport standout led from start to finish with 18-hole rounds Monday and Tuesday of 81-82--163.
That was five strokes ahead of van Rooyen’s scores of 87-81--168 and eight under the 87-84--171 from Paul, the lone veteran among Corn’s top five. Paul just missed All-America status with a 17th-place showing in last spring’s NJCAA finals.
Freshmen Casey Biddinger (Lafayette, IN / McCutcheon H.S.) and Ashley Hemann (Highland) both contributed to Monday’s scoring which resulted in an eight-shot advantage before succumbing to dropping temperatures and biting winds. Biddinger checked in at 86-97--183; Hemann was credited with 85-99--144 tallies.
The RLC domination atop the leaderboard was interrupted by the Logan duo of Michelle Murphy, fourth at 87-90--177, and Brandi Wilson, fifth at 87-92--179. They were playing on their home course.
These Lady Warriors set a school record in mid-September when they carded a 36-hole total of 636 in the Illinois Wesleyan University Fall Classic at Ironwood Golf Club in Normal. That was 10 shots better than the previous standard set by the national-qualifying 2000 contingent.
At the time, Corn admitted, "This team has by far the most talent of any team we have ever had here. It has the most capability. It is just a matter of when are we going to put it all together?"