TULSA, Okla. — No one has ever confused WVU with Oklahoma. That is especially true when it comes to the weather.
What Oklahomans have come to expect is the unexpected. Everything from 35 mph winds to freezing rain to 90-degree temperatures can be seen all in one day.
The WVU golf team will find that out this week when they compete in the three day Big 12 Mens’ Golf Championship at the par-70, 7,151-yard Southern Hills Country Club, in Tulsa.
“It’s a different part of the country, so the grass types are gonna be different, and obviously, the wind,” Mountaineers coach Sean Covich said. “Typically, the winds goes really hard during Big 12 week, out there out West, in April. We just got to be ready for it, and embrace the conditions. I think we’ve played in enough bad weather that we should at least know what to expect and how to prepare for it, but, unfortunately, there’s no way we’ll be as prepared as the teams from Texas, and Kansas, and Oklahoma, just because they play in it every single week.”
According to Covich, the Mountaineers have done their best to prepare for conditions that may not be similar, but just as demanding.
“We kind of have a different problem, it’s cold here, but the wind doesn’t blow like it does out in Oklahoma and Texas,” Covich said. “So we just try to do our best, play in the worst conditions we can when we’re here, at home, try to get ready for it.”
For junior Max Sear, the mindset Covich has instilled in them in dealing with adverse conditions will be a key to what they want to accomplish.
“The great part about our coach is, he gets us practicing conditions like that all the time,” Sear said. “On Wednesday, we practiced, because it was nice out, then yesterday, we were playing, it was probably 40 degrees, and blowing 20. The only way to adapt to that is just having a good mindset and practicing.”
The first round of the Big 12 Tournament starts at 9 a.m. with No. 1 Oklahoma State and No. 2 Oklahoma teeing off.
The ninth-ranked Mountaineers will hit the course at 10:30 a.m. along with No. 10 Kansas in the final group of the day.
Each team will consist of five members. For WVU that is Sear, sophomore Etienne Papineau, senior Avery Schneider and freshmen Mark Goetz and Matthew Sharpstene.
Each team will play 36 holes Monday. Tuesday’s third-round pairings will be based on Monday’s scores, while Wednesday’s final-round pairings will be based on 54-hole totals with the leaders teeing off last.
While the weather will be a big factor for each team, the biggest element WVU has to deal with is the talent that makes up the Big 12. Five are ranked in the top 17 of Golfweek/Sagarin ratings. That includes led by No. 1 Oklahoma State, No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 10 Baylor, No. 13 Texas Tech and No. 18 Texas.
But Covich doesn’t want that to be a concern for his squad.
“The Big 12 Championship is a major championship in college golf, so it’s just opportunity to compete against the best,” Covich said. “But really, what’s crazy about this game is, we could be playing the number one team in the country, or we could be playing the 298th ranked team in the country. You still have to golf your ball. You still have to play your shot, you got to play your game, so yeah, it is special to tee it up against Oklahoma State, and then defend the National Champion Sooners, from Oklahoma, and everybody else just in the top 25, but you still got to play your game.”
While WVU comes into the championship as an underdog, Sear sees an opportunity for his team to show they have started to close the gap on the other squads.
We have improved a little bit this year,” Sear said. “So I think our expectations are going to increase a little bit, compete a little bit more. The last couple years have been pretty tough on us. I mean last year was pretty brutal conditions and it showed that we weren’t very deep. This year, I hope, just to string a couple of good rounds together and see where it takes us.”
The Mountaineers raced its way to two final wins to help the Big 12 secure a victory Sunday, at the George Mason Invitational in Fairfax Station, Va.
“Considering that we had only three rows this week and that two of them were here yesterday, we’re generally happy with how the team performed today,” coach Jimmy King said. “Despite the challenging circumstances all season, our team’s spirits have remained high and we’re hopeful of having some quality water time at home in the remaining weeks of the season.”
Over the course of the day, the Big 12, Colonial Athletic Conference and Atlantic 10 competed for bragging rights in a unique competition that pitted each conference against one another instead of the individual schools.
WVU joined Big 12 foes Kansas and Old Dominion. Eastern Michigan, Buffalo and Delaware represented the Colonial, while host George Mason, George Washington and Dayton competed for the Atlantic 10.
Four Mountaineer boats competed in the first varsity eight, second varsity eight, third varsity eight and varsity four. Points were awarded in the finals in the first varsity eight, second varsity eight and first varsity four.
In the afternoon finals, the winner of the varsity eight final received nine points for their conference. The second-place finisher received six points, and the third-place boat collected three points. The second varsity eight boats scored with a 6-4-2 format, and the varsity fours used a 3-2-1 scoring system.
The Big 12 claimed victories in four of the nine finals to win the George Mason Invitational.
The morning’s opening session put each of the teams against their respective conference foes. The results of the morning session determined what final each team would race in to earn points for their conference.
WVU began the day by finishing second in the second varsity eight (6:49.4) and third varsity eight (7:08.4) events, while finishing third in the varsity eight (6:50.4) and varsity four (7:51.8) races.
The Mountaineers will be back in action Saturday, as they take on Saint Joseph’s, Delaware and Navy, in Philadelphia.
The Mountaineers concluded the regular season by falling to TCU, 4-0, on Sunday, at the Mountaineer Tennis Courts, in Morgantown.
WVU (7-13, 1-8 Big 12) began the match by dropping the doubles point, as the Horned Frogs took two of the three matches to take the early 1-0 lead. On the third court, Christina Jordan and Giovanna Caputo fell to Aleksa Cveticanin and Aleksandra Zenovka, 6-1. TCU then claimed the doubles point when Alexis Pereira and Donika Bashota defeated WVU’s Sofía Duran and Anne-Sophie Courteau, 6-3 at No. 3.
“In doubles, Paula (Goetz) and Lyn Yuen (Choo) got back on track today, which is good to see,” WVU head coach Miha Lisac said. “For them, it was definitely an important match. You want to be in a position where you are confident going into the conference tournament and they looked more like themselves today.”
The Horned Frogs would then win the first three singles matches to claim the contest by a score of 4-0. At No. 1, Jordan fell to Cveticanin, 6-0 and 6-3. Courteau lost to Bashota, 6-3 and 6-1 on the second court, as TCU took a commanding 3-0 lead.
WVU awaits the official announcement of the Big 12 championship schedule to find out who it will play. The tournament will be held From Thursday-April 29, at the Texas Tennis Center in Austin, Texas.
Track and field
The Mountaineers concluded competition Saturday, at the Virginia Challenge, in Charlottesville, Va.
Redshirt senior Amy Cashin paced the Mountaineers with a second-place finish in the women’s 1,500 meters invitational, registering a time of 4:20.29. The Werribee, Victoria, Australia, native earned one of the team’s five top-eight finishes on the final day of the two-day meet at Virginia’s Lannigan Field.
“After watching Amy’s 1,500 tonight, it’s very obvious she is back to her indoor shape,” WVU coach Sean Cleary said. “I was especially pleased that she was able to handle the tactical nature of tonight’s race and kick as well as she ever has over the last lap.
“It was exciting to see Amy, Maddie (Gardner) and Danique (Bryan) all in uniform together this weekend and progressing in the right direction as we get closer to the championship season. I was very proud of the team for being able to turn around so quickly after getting back from Bucknell in the early hours last Monday and compete in such a big invitational on Friday and Saturday. It’ll be nice to get back into town and have a little more time to recover and train before hitting the road for next week’s competition.”
Along with Cashin, redshirt freshman Sarah Wills took second place in the women’s 1,500 meters (unseeded), earning a personal-best time of 4:32.71, while redshirt senior Rebecca Wendt took eighth in the women’s 800 meters in 2:15.26.
The Mountaineers finished with 10 top-10 performances on the weekend.
WVU was joined by over 50 schools at the Virginia Challenge this weekend, including No. 15 Tennessee, No. 23 Miami (Fla.), Georgetown, Maryland, Michigan State, Navy, NC State, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Penn State, Pitt, Syracuse, Temple, Wake Forest and others.
Next up, WVU returns to Charlottesville on April 28, as the Mountaineers compete in the Virginia Grand Prix.