Golfers battle wintry conditions to claim third straight MIAA title


By Patrick Cooley, Sports Editor

Despite wind, drizzle and temperatures hovering in the low-40s, the UNO golf team prevailed at the MIAA Championships last Tuesday in Kansas City, Mo.  With the win, the Mavs close the book on their time in the MIAA with their third conference title in as many years. 

“It was outstanding,” UNO Head Coach Tim Nelson said about his team’s performance. “Our kids played really well despite the conditions and I’m just proud of their effort.”

Sporting winter gloves and extra clothing, the Mavs shot a two-day score of 652 – 54 strokes better than second-place Truman State.

“The other teams played hard, but honestly they aren’t as good as we are,” Nelson said. “To win by that amount in those conditions says a lot about our kids.”

Senior Dani Suponchick shot a championship-best 157 to finish at 13-over-par.  For her efforts, she was named the MIAA Player of the Year.

“I don’t have enough superlatives to describe Dani,” Nelson said. “She’s fantastic. Her fight and competitiveness are outstanding.”

After posting a 76 on the first day of competition, Suponchick struggled early on day two.  The Papillion native shot a disappointing 47 on the front nine, but fought back to post a 34 on the remaining nine holes to finish four strokes ahead of second-place Jennifer Lawson of Truman.

“She showed a lot of heart fighting back like that,” Nelson said. “Her competitiveness was fantastic. Her career with us has been outstanding. She’s been a three-year captain and an excellent leader.”

Armana Christianson finished third overall and second for the Mavs with a score of 165. Amy Powell shot a 166 and teammate Rica Soper posted a 36-hole score of 167 to finish fifth in the tournament. Following the tournament, Christianson, Powell, Soper and Suponchick were named to the 2011 All-MIAA Team.

Nelson pointed to his team’s conditioning as a deciding factor in their success on the golf course.

“People don’t realize how hard we work away from the course as far as conditioning goes,” he said. “We condition three times a week at 6:30 a.m. and also come in on Friday. People are shocked to hear we do it, but it showed last week when the other girls were getting tired and worn out and we weren’t.”

The Mavs, who are ninth in the latest West Regional standings, await the final seedings for the NCAA West Regional to be held in Amarillo, Tex., May 1-3.  The top nine teams plus individual golfers are invited.