It didn’t take long for Laine Evans to realize Wichita was where she wanted to finish her golfing career.
After playing her freshman season at Kansas, Evans transferred home to Wichita State. Now a senior, the Maize South graduate has become the top golfer for the WSU women’s golf team.
Evans kicked off her senior year with a career-best finish and score, as her three-day total of 217 was good for sixth at the season-opening Payne Stewart Invitational earlier this week.
“Wichita was just the place for me, and being back home has been one of the biggest blessings,” Evans said. “I’m closer to my friends and family, and I love my teammates and coaches to death. I’ve grown so much since I’ve been here, and I’m really excited to see how my senior year goes.”
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Last season, Evans played a supporting role to Taryn Torgerson, who won the individual championship in the American Athletic Conference. Torgerson has graduated, but remains on the team as a student coach.
Now it’s Evans’ turn to step up and be the team leader.
“I’ve always looked up to Taryn, and she was always someone who was a great role model,” Evans said. “I want to continue to lead that way and do that for this team, so when I graduate then someone else can pick it up. I’ve been working a lot on my game and thinking about how I want to lead this team. I’m really proud of how we did in the first tournament, and I thought we all really stepped up.”
Even without Torgerson’s low score, WSU dropped its team score by 11 strokes at the season-opening tournament, relative to last season. WSU finished fourth with a team score of 891.
Gavrilla Arya is the team’s other senior, while Michelle Ledermann and Annika Chickering add depth. All have improved since last season. Freshman Hana Mirnik, from Slovenia, made an instant impact with a three-day total of 220 and finished 12th overall and second on the team.
Evans is being counted on to be the team’s consistent low scorer.
“Laine has always been very good at maintaining strengths in every aspect of her game,” WSU coach Tom McCurdy said. “She has always hit it far with control, but now she’s just smarter. She understands her swing better, and she avoids big mis-hits.”
“I really focused this summer on improving my short game,” Evans added. “A lot of wedge work and putting. This week I didn’t really have the best ball-striking week, but I still produced a good score because of my short game and putting. That’s been my biggest improvement.”
WSU continues its fall season on Sept. 24 at the Coeur D’Alene Invitational, a two-day tournament in Idaho.
“We want to continue to improve statistically as a team,” McCurdy said. “If we’re improving at a rate faster than other teams, then we’re going to keep climbing up the rankings. That’s why we keep working on our mental game, keeping our composure in pressure situations so everyone can function at a high level in tournaments.”
Men’s team opens with a title
In his first collegiate tournament, WSU sophomore Zac Owens took home the title at the Joe Feaganes Invitational on Tuesday with a two-day score of 134 (8-under).
Owens’ strong debut led the Shockers in a team championship, as WSU edged Eastern Kentucky by 6 strokes with its team total of 549 strokes. The Shockers finished in a tie for seventh place last season.
Two of WSU’s returners from last season, Adrien Michellod (third, 137) and Yannik Emmert (ninth, 138), also helped with top-10 finishes. Freshmen Dawson Lewis and Brock Polhill rounded out the team for WSU.
The Shockers will play in the Ram Masters Invitational, which will feature five NCAA Regional teams from last season, on Sept. 18-19 in Fort Collins, Colo.