In the middle of its spring season, the University of South Dakota women’s golf team is aiming for a Summit League Championship under the strong play of sophomore Brenna Lervick and first-year Abby Dufrane.
The Coyotes recently broke a school record for a 54-hole tournament at the South Dakota State Jackrabbit Classic in Primm, Nev., where they finished 7 out of 11 teams. The team scored 51 over-par.
“We’re off to a really good start this year,” said Head Golf Coach Nick Hovden. “To where we were just a few years ago to now is incredible. The women’s program is taking huge strides.”
In the Jackrabbit Classic, Lervick tied for first place but lost the medalist title in a playoff. Her first place finish earned Lervick her second Summit League Golfer of the Week honor of the spring season.
Lervick said how she continues to find success is simple.
“There’s no single key thing to success other than keeping your work ethic up,” Lervick said. “Keep practicing, and keep working. That’s my motivation.”
Along with Lervick’s strong play, Dufrane has also shined for the Coyotes. She placed second at the Lady Thunderbird Invitational in St. George, Utah, over spring break.
Hovden wants to see both Lervick and Dufrane play well at the same time.
“Abby and Brenna seem to switch off when one shoots a good round or finishes well at a tournament,” he said. “We need both of them, along with our three, four and five golfers, to all play well at the same time to compete for a Summit League Championship.”
Both underclassmen, Hovden said Lervick and Dufrane help push the upperclassmen to play better as well.
“Having your younger players set the tone obviously pushes our older players to play better and compete,” Hovden said. “But you don’t shoot school records with just two players. All of our golfers have to play well, too.”
Hovden has also seen an increase in excitement at practice, which he believes only helps the team’s goals.
“When you’re a golfer in the Midwest, there’s nothing that can beat the excitement of getting outside,” Hovden said. “We had an optional practice the other day, and every member of the team was outside at the range hitting balls.”
Outdoor practices have allowed the golfers to get a better feel for their play compared to hitting in the DakotaDome.
“You get to see your ball flight which is huge,” Lervick said. “You can’t really tell when you’re hitting into a net inside.”
The women’s team practices consist of alternating hitting balls at the range and playing on The Bluffs course with the men’s team. Hovden said it is important to keep working at the range, but getting to practice on the course is key to gaining confidence.
“When you get out on the course, you relearn how to score and how to compete,” Hovden said.
The Coyotes have two more tournaments before the Summit League Championship begins April 20. In order to compete for that championship, Dufrane said the focus is to find scoring depth.
“We need everyone contributing,” Dufrane said. “We need to continue practicing and push everyone to compete at their best.”
(Photo: Sophomore Breanna Levrick works toward success at practice on March 20. Levrick has been the Summit League Golfer of the Week twice this spring season. Sean Bower / The Volante)