Feb. 15, 2013
DEKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois women's golf team opens its spring season this weekend when the team travels to Florida to compete in the Gary Freeman Bethune-Cookman University Spring Invitational.
The event, which begins on Sunday and ends Monday, will be played at Halifax Plantation Golf Club in Ormond Beach, Fla. The first round tees off at 12 p.m. CT with a shotgun start. NIU will play a second slate of 18 holes on Monday, beginning at 7 a.m. CT.
Halifax Plantation will present enough tests to keep the field on edge. Built in 1993, the course will play to 6,215 yards and par 72. Palm trees line the fairways, and there are an abundance of white sand traps and water hazards to keep the field in check.
The Huskies will be the most northern state making the trip down to the Sunshine State. The five teams competing against NIU and host BCU at the tournament include Florida Atlantic, Hampton, Savannah State, South Carolina State and Towson.
"There's only seven teams," NIU head coach Kim Kester said. "I'd like a first or second finish. You play in tournaments to win. You don't play to be a runner-up. You play to win, and that's what we want to do."
The team returns to action after a four-month layoff from their fall campaign. The Huskies captured top-10 finishes in each of their four fall events, the first time they've done so since 2009. The season was highlighted by the opener at Green Bay where NIU placed two players, Allie Parthie (Marinette, Wis./Marinette) and Connie Ellett (Hampshire, Ill./Hampshire), in the top 10 as individuals en route to a runner-up finish as a team. Parthie gave herself a run at the title on the final day with a first-round 73. Though her bid came up short, the Wisconsin native secured the first of three top-fives during the fall.
Parthie repeated her performance the next week at the Cougar Golf Classic, finishing in a tie for fourth. Jenny Niemiec
(St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles East) also contributed her best finish as a Huskie, a tie for sixth. The pair of top 10s led NIU to fifth out of the 15 teams competing at Harborside International. Ellett stepped up the following week with a team-best tie for fifth at the Cardinal Classic, leading NIU to seventh place.
Parthie capped off the fall with a tie for fifth at the 2012 Preview. The finish was her 14th career top-10, easily the best among active Huskies. Looking ahead to this spring, Parthie has a number of milestones within reach. She currently holds a tie for fifth on the all-time Huskie scoring list at 81.2. Matching her fall pace would put her within reach of Lori Wetzel for fourth on the list. Her 78.8 fall average would tie for third on the single-season list if she can continue her strong play. In fact, Nicole Jeray's 21-year-old record 78.1 is reachable over Parthie's final seven events. Finally, Parthie is seeking to capture her first individual tournament title, having laid claim to nine top fives without a win.
"She's doing well; she's healthy," Kester said. "I can definitely see her coming out and winning one of the spring events. She put herself in position in the fall to do that; she's come very close. I think that's built up momentum for her. She's not unfamiliar with the territory of being in the hunt."