WRITTEN BY: GRIFFIN ASELTINE | STAFF WRITER
Six athletes – Rima Antous, Haley Fuller, Mariah Fuller, Michelle Picca, Lindsey Redmond and Samantha Stockton – all shared a common, strong ambition at the start of the season.
It was only the program’s fifth season, and head coach Noel Allen accepted the tall task of leading the team just nine months ago.
On paper, it seemed like the making of a transitional period, one that would require growing pains. A head coach entering her first season, the loss of four seniors, only two new recruits, and ultimately the team’s smallest roster since its inaugural season in 2011. These all seemed to resemble the making of a year that did not have much room for improvement.
But so far, all this group has done is succeed and make Point Loma history in a phenomenal way.
“We all have similar personalities, goals, and character traits that it takes to win in this sport,” said Samantha Stockton, the only senior currently on the team. “We all respect and love each other, which is why I think we are doing so well.”
It started with the Western New Mexico Invitational in September, when the team placed sixth out of 16 teams and broke Point Loma’s school record by 14 strokes. That would only be a sign of things to come, as they have managed to place at least fourth in every competition since that match.
Over the course of the entire season, the team has placed first in four out of seven tournaments, and managed to place within the top half in the remaining three.
As of this writing, following the cancellation of their most recently scheduled invitational, the Sea Lions are currently ranked 19th in the NCAA Division II Golfstat rankings within an accumulation of more than 160 teams across the nation.
“The girls have really come together as a unit, and are really figuring out the team aspect of golf,” Allen said. “It is often seen as an individual sport and it can be a bit daunting to suddenly enter the team aspect of it. But we’re finding ways to execute: both individually and as a team.”
When asked about the recent execution and success of the team, many of the players said that teamwork has certainly contributed, but Noel Allen has perhaps been the primary factor in guiding the team to its current state.
“Coach Allen has been the best thing to happen to this program,” said Stock- ton. “She understands the complications of being a student athlete. As a team, we want to be led, not managed, and she does just that. She has a vision and we follow by example. She gets that golf is tough, and she is going to love me no matter what happens.”
Haley Fuller, another key player so far this season who has received PacWest Player of the Week recognition alongside Stockton, had similar reflections towards Allen and how the team has significantly bonded under her leadership.
“There are not enough kind words I can say to describe Coach Allen,” Fuller said. “She has never asked me how I am playing, or how I am doing on the golf course. Her main concern is always how I am feeling, or if I need her help. Our team’s motto this year is ‘Love wins.’ Coach Allen uses her actions to live by those words.”
Even in the sport of golf, team chemistry is everything. On the outside, this roster may look small. But upon examining what their intentions are when playing the game, it is no wonder how they have managed to make it the point where they are now.
“Our goal is to win,” Stockton said in clarification of what the team expects. “Of course we want to have fun as well, but we are all competitive and want to represent PLNU as champions.”
There is currently one last tournament – the Mustang Intercollegiate – scheduled for April 1, before the Pac- West Championship on April 18.
But if the stride continues, the sea- son may not end there. A spot in the top nine of the West Region will qualify the Sea Lions for the NCAA Super Regionals on May 2.
When they say they want to represent PLNU as champions, did they mean conference champions? Or national champions? Either way, the future looks extremely bright.
photo by PLNUsealions.com