Back on the green and running

Photo by Chris Zuk

The Bison women’s golf team was back in business this summer, the first year of operation since 2011.

While most students were enjoying the summer months, or catching up on credits, the Bisons golfers were hitting the links. Women’s golf coach Bri-ann Tokariwski said she is proud of the group’s development.

“I think the group of women that are in this program are extremely dedicated to the sport and to the team,” she said. “They are constantly helping each other improve and are always striving to better themselves in the sport.”

Tokariwski was positive about the future of the program, and its role in growing the women’s game.

“With the dedication of these players, as well as their willingness to learn and improve, I believe this program will succeed and thrive,” she said. “These girls are now role models in the community and give the younger girls something to strive for in terms of being a part of the team.”

Tokariwski did not hesitate to highlight contributions and strong showings by all the players.

“I know this is going to sound corny but each of them has had a standout moment since we started,” she said. “Brynn [Todd] won her first tournament as a Bison and was named U of M women’s Bison of the Week.”

Todd took first place at the UJ Fall Kick Off shooting six over in what was the first tournament for the women’s team since 2011. She was joined in her strong finish by fellow Bisons Marissa Naylor, who took second with a +9, Tianna Slate at 11th with a +18, and Kathlyn Santiano in 17th with a +26, giving the Bisons a second-place finish overall.

“Marissa placed second in her first tournament and tied low Bisons in many of the tournaments we have played, as well as started to hit high shots around the green that she was not comfortable with,” Tokariwski continued.

One of the most recent results, a second-place finish by the Bisons at the Concordia Fall Invitational tournament, saw strong individual finishes by the five women’s golfers. Naylor and Veronica Vestesnik  placed sixth in the field at +19.

That same weekend, the Bisons took part in the Tracey Lane Memorial, held at Bemidji Town & Country  Club in Bemidji, Minn. Vestesnik was the top performer for the group, placing 17th with a +20, followed by Naylor at +21, Todd at +23, and Lexie Kopp at +39. The Bisons placed 7th.

Vestesnik’s performance showed she can remain calm under pressure, according to Tokariwski. Slate also reached a milestone of her own during the back-to-back tournaments.

“Veronica has tied with Marissa and played with grace after her driver broke with five holes left to play in the last tournament,” she said. “Tianna broke 90 last tournament after being super close to breaking 90 all season.”

The contributions of other Bisons on the team were noted by their coach, in particular for battling health issues while competing at a high level.

“Lexie came back from a severe allergic reaction to play really well this past week and Kathlyn played for the Bisons while she was really sick,” Tokariwski noted. “I am beyond proud of each of them and the strides they have made from the summer and even from training camp.”