The event will take place over three consecutive days beginning on Monday May 6th, with the student athletes playing one full round of golf each day. At the end of it all, the top four out of five competitors from each school will be combined to form one aggregate score.
Harvard clinched its spot at the event by winning the Ivy League Championship two weeks ago. The last time the squad reached this stage was when the current seniors were themselves just young freshmen.
“It’s a huge honor [to compete in this tournament]. We love being able to play in it, and we don’t always get to and it’s not always a guarantee,” captain Michelle Xie said. “It’s always so much fun to be able to play with other teams. I haven’t done so since freshman year and everyone else on the team hasn’t played in NCAA Regionals yet so it’s definitely really special.”
This will easily be the tallest task that the Crimson has faced all year. Instead of its normal Ancient Eight competition, the group will be going up against some of the nation’s best teams. The field in this Midwest Regional includes schools like Stanford, Arizona, Kent State, UCLA, and the host Michigan State.
That being said, there is not much that Harvard can do to influence the performance of these other teams. Instead, it must focus on how its own game will play out.
“I think we’re just trying to do our best and make sure that we’re doing everything we can to ensure our optimal performance,” freshman Elizabeth Wang said. “[It’s all about] just trying our best and seeing how far we can run with it.”
Wang has been a big spark in her first year of collegiate competition. She leads the team with a 71.90 stroke average over 10 rounds of play and has carded a team best single round score of 69. Wang also became the Ivy League Individual Champion by notching the best solo score at the Ivy League Championship.
“I’ve always loved the game and I’ve always wanted to see how I can improve,” Wang said. “Especially with college, the team provides a huge amount of support and I’m very grateful for them. They are amazing people, each with their own motivations and desires and passions, and it’s great for all of us to support each other.”
This is the second consecutive year that a Crimson golfer was crowned the Ancient Eight Individual Champion. The year before, Xie was the one who took home the award.
Despite not replicating the feat this season, the senior has still had an impressive finale to her Harvard career. Xie has earned a top 10 finish in a tournament this year and her 76.13 stroke average is the third best on the team. Xie’s fellow senior Anna Zhou has also turned in strong performances in her last run.
However, as these two are finishing off their last run, there are several young faces who are just getting started. Anina Ku and Chloe Royston round out a freshman class that should give Crimson golf much optimism for the future.
“I think there’s a lot of strength in our freshmen this year,” Xie said. “It’s really great because they come in with a bunch of energy and they’re ready to practice more and always add more to the team. They’re so enthusiastic about everything we do.”
Nevertheless, there is still unfinished business in this current spring season. Every member of the team will need to perform at their best in order for Harvard to make a splash at NCAA Regionals. The competition will be stiff but this is an opportunity that every athlete lives for.
—Staff writer Kostas Tingos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.