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Wichita State heads to SEC country for men’s golf regional

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, May 7, 2013, at 5:03 p.m.

Wichita State’s men golf team must handle the Southeastern Conference in its NCAA regional.

The Shockers will play at the University Club of Baton Rouge, home course for LSU in the 54-hole regional May 16-18. WSU, seeded 11th, will join five SEC schools in the 13-team regional.

“It’s a good regional we fall into,” WSU senior Rafael Becker said. “It’s a great course. It’s tough. It’s long. The weather should be all right.”

The top five teams, and the low individual not on a qualifying team, advance to the NCAA championships May 28-June 2 in Atlanta, at the Capital City Club.

Alabama is the top seed, followed by Florida, LSU and Mississippi State.

WSU is making its 20th NCAA appearance and will try to qualify for the NCAA championships for the first time since 2004.

The Shockers won the Missouri Valley Conference title by a record 32 strokes, sending them into NCAA play with positive feelings.

“We’ve all got a good feeling about this regional,” senior Hunter Sparks said. “We’re all playing good at the right time. I really like our chances.”

All the way from Allegany — The 2011 National Junior Olympic track and field meet brought thousands of athletes to Cessna Stadium.

WSU track coaches took full advantage of that opportunity. Freshman high jumper Ashley Peterson is one of the first athletes recruited with an assist from that meet.

Peterson, from Allegany, N.Y., met with WSU coaches and toured the campus after she finished competing in the Junior Olympic meet.

“Once I was here I thought it was a really cool school and it was good coaching,” she said. “They were really friendly, and that’s not a common thing that you see at many colleges.”

Peterson ranks second in the Missouri Valley Conference with a height of 5 feet, 10 inches, a half-inch behind teammate Tanya Friesen.

“She really has taken a step up as a freshman,” WSU coach Steve Rainbolt said. “At some point, she really began to respond well to instruction about her technique. She really started getting it, and jumping pretty darn high.”

She added five inches to her height since the indoor season as she continued to improve her technique.

“Bolt could see that in my penultimate, my last three steps, that I would start hunching over and lean into the bar,” she said. “I’ve learned to tell myself that I need to stand up straight and not do that. That’s been my biggest issue.”

Rainbolt expects the connections made in 2011 to continue to pay off. His coaches regularly talk to athletes who competed in the 2011 meet. Redshirt freshman Breanne Borman, from Desoto, Mo, also met WSU coaches during that week.

“I’m confident we will benefit from that recruiting-wise for a long time,” Rainbolt said.

Back in the bracket — After a one-season absence, WSU’s softball team qualified for the MVC Tournament as the No. 8 seed.

The Shockers (19-32, 1-15 MVC) play No. 5 Southern Illinois (24-26, 12-10) at 11 a.m. Thursday in Omaha. The winner plays No. 4 Northern Iowa (23-24, 13-8) at 4 p.m.

WSU went 1-2 against SIU and 0-2 against Northern Iowa.

Creighton is the top seed and is on WSU’s side of the bracket. The Bluejays (29-17, 15-7) earned a double-bye and play at noon on Friday, needing one win to advance to Saturday’s championship game.

Check Paul Suellentrop’s Shocker blog at blogs.kansas.com/shockwaves. Reach him at 316-269-6760 or psuellentrop@wichitaeagle.com.

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