Oklahoma Christian, Northeastern State and Southwestern Oklahoma State will represent Oklahoma as the NCAA Division II Women’s National Championship gets under way today at the Champions Course at PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
The 2019 NCAA Championship will play in a different format for the first time. In the first three rounds, teams will go 54 holes of medal play to declare an individual champion along with finishers 2-10. The top eight teams will be placed into a bracket and seeded based on 54-hole scores for match play on May 17-18.
The 16-team event starts Tuesday and will run through Saturday at PGA National Resort’s Champions Course.
The goal for the 18th-ranked OC Eagles is simple – to continue, and perhaps improve upon, their recent run of success, during which they have held their own with some of Division II’s top women’s golf programs.
They’ll tee off the opening round at 7 a.m. Central time, grouped with No. 5-ranked Florida Tech and Missouri-St. Louis.
The Eagles won three tournaments this season and have spent much of the campaign ranked in the top 20 in the Women’s Golf Coaches Association’s Division II coaches’ poll. But their best performances might well have come in a pair of tournaments they didn’t win.
Last month at the Heartland Conference Championship at Slick Rock Golf Course in Horseshoe Bay, Texas, the Eagles rallied past a higher-ranked foe, St. Mary’s (Texas), to finish second behind No. 2-ranked Dallas Baptist (Texas).
Then, at the West Super Regional at Amarillo Country Club in Amarillo, Texas, OC led after the first round and deep into the second round, forcing Dallas Baptist – which eventually won – into the unfamiliar position of having to come from behind. The only teams that finished ahead of OC were DBU, No. 4 California State-Monterey Bay and No. 8 West Texas A&M, with the latter two finishing just one and five shots ahead of OC, respectively.
The Eagles might never before have played in the Division II Championship as a team, but they have two players who have qualified for the event as individuals. Senior Kate Goodwin of Tulsa won the Super Regional individual title last year and played in last year’s national event in Houston. In 2017, current junior Abigail Rigsby of Courtenay, British Columbia, won a playoff at the Super Regional for an individual spot at nationals, but had to withdraw before making the trip to Ohio due to illness.
For No. 25 NSU, the Riverhawks are making their ninth team appearance at the NCAA National Championship and first since 2016. NSU has not finished lower than eighth and finished third in the 2000 Tournament. Ebba Moberg and Kelsey Lumpkin played as a freshman during the RiverHawks’ last run in the National Finals. The RiverHawks finished in eighth-place in the NCAA Spring Championships Festival, held in Denver that year.
The RiverHawks won the past four MIAA Championship titles and are one of two conference schools at the event. Central Missouri is the other team competing along with Sydney Roberts from Central Oklahoma, who qualified as an individual.
Northeastern State is paired with top-ranked Barry who has five event wins this season and #10-ranked Dallas Baptist. Aitana Hernandez is ranked #85-national on GolfStat.com, and Ebba Moberg is ranked #96.
SWOSU is making its second appearance in the national championship as the top seed from the Central Region after claiming the program’s first regional championship last week in Muskogee, Okla.
SWOSU last competed in 2014, finishing 12th at the national event in Conover, N.C., after placing second at the Super Regional.
The Lady Bulldogs are a veteran team with four individuals who earned All-Great American Conference recognition. Gloria Choiis a four-time First Team All-GAC selection who finished tied for second at the Central Regional, while Elin Wahlin and Chloe Thackeray also placed among the top-10 individuals in Muskogee. SWOSU’s lowest finisher at the regional was Veronika de Bochdanovits, who also claimed First Team All-GAC recognition in her first year at SWOSU and senior Jenna Eidem rounds out the lineup for nationals.
Leading the team for the seventh season is head coach Brad Fleetwood, who has now guided both the men’s and women’s teams to two separate trips to the NCAA Division II National Championships.