With just a week and a half left of classes before finals week, students at the University of South Dakota are busy finishing final projects and papers.
For student-athletes in tennis, golf, track and field and softball, the next month will also focus on bringing home Summit League Championships.
The first sport to wrap up its season with the conference championship is golf April 23. After the second day of competition, the women were in seventh in a field of seven teams, while the men were fifth in a field of eight teams.
While there were no major expectations from the women’s golf team, all season, in interviews with The Volante, members of the men’s golf team talked about winning the conference championship after placing second at the 2013 conference meet. With no seniors on last year’s runner-up team, the team placed the Summit League Championship as its main goal for the season.
The women’s tennis team will conclude its season April 25-26. The women wrapped up their regular season April 18-20 with three Summit League matches. The team beat Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and Western Illinois and lost to Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. These final three matches solidified the team’s seeding for the Summit League Championship.
The women head into the conference tournament with an 11-12 overall record and 2-4 conference record. The Coyotes are currently fifth in conference rankings.
The women’s softball team will wrap up its season at the Summit League tournament May 7-10. After going 1-2 against IUPUI in a three-game series April 18-19 and 1-1 against Iowa State, the women are 25-17 overall and 6-5 in the conference. The team currently sits at fourth in conference rankings.
Throughout the season, in interviews with The Volante, the women have talked constantly about how winning the conference championship is the team’s main goal for the season. Not only does the team want to win the Summit League title, but it is also focusing on heading into the conference tournament with the best seeding possible, head coach Amy Klyse said earlier this season. The top two teams receive a bye in early-round play, which Klyse said would be key to strong tournament play.
Finally, the men’s and women’s track and field teams will wrap up their conference season May 15-17 with the Summit League Championship. The men won the indoor conference title earlier this semester and have repeatedly told The Volante their goal is to win the outdoor title as well. The women placed second in the indoor championship behind North Dakota State, a team that has dominated the Summit League for the last six years.
The focus right now for both the men’s and women’s teams is to get back to full health, head coaches Lucky Huber and Dave Gottsleben said this week. With the Summit League Championship just a month away, it should give the Coyotes time to get the teams back to full health and in top shape for championship season.
So that’s how the spring conference tournament season is shaping up for the Coyotes, but some may be wondering why it’s such a big deal for USD. With a men’s indoor track and field title and a women’s basketball title already in our name this year, the university has received a certain amount of recognition.
As the university settles into Division I play, winning conference titles is what matters at this point. No more excuses. If our athletic programs can’t consistently win conference championships, then perhaps it’s time to make some changes.