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Forum staff reports, Published April 24 2013

Bison secure Summit League women's golf title

KELLER, Texas – North Dakota State had the upper hand practically from the first tee. And on Wednesday night, the Bison had their fingers on their first-ever golf conference championship.

The NDSU women completed a three-day sweep of sorts at Sky Creek Ranch Golf Course, and senior Amy Anderson completed a stellar Summit League career.

She became the league’s first three-time individual champion, and the Bison claimed the team title, ending a run of 15 straight by Oral Roberts, which left the conference after last year. Even so, it would have been tough to top NDSU this season, although the last few holes got interesting.

Sensing the significance of finally winning a title, head coach Matt Johnson said there were some nervous moments by his players on the course. For one, they didn’t know exactly where they stood on the leaderboard.

“Very relieved it’s over,” Anderson said. “I don’t think anybody thought a school from North Dakota would make it to NCAA regionals. We haven’t hit a shot outside yet in North Dakota, and that just makes the story of how much we appreciate what we did that much more interesting.”

The Bison got the automatic berth to the NCAA regionals at either Auburn University, Oklahoma or Stanford from May 9-11. The field will be announced Monday.

Anderson finished at 7-over-par 223, which was 11 shots better than runner-up Morgan Fitts of South Dakota State. But at the trophy presentation, it was holding the team trophy that stood out the most.

“Probably one of the best moments of my golfing career,” Anderson said.

All five NDSU players finished in the top 20. Freshman Hailey Boner ended in a four-way tie for sixth at 243, junior Abby Knutson tied for 12th at 245, senior Cydney Hasselberg tied for 14th at 246 and sophomore Sarah Storandt was 20th at 249.

The Bison weren’t particularly sharp on Wednesday with their final round 330 the highest of the season. But they also had a 24-stroke cushion heading into the day and finished at 949, 11 shots ahead of Missouri-Kansas City.

“It’s hard to go in with a big lead. All you can do is lose it,” said Johnson, who was named the Summit League coach of the year. “I just think we struggled with the significance of what was about to happen.”

Johnson said he didn’t think about the end result all week – until the final scores were in. Like Anderson, holding the title trophy was worth more than words.

“It’s always been the goal,” he said. “It’s a big deal. Emotions changed quickly. We were down a bit there, and then all of a sudden everything was fine.”