2007-08 Season Preview
The Jeffs’ 2006 fall season featured four events, and was highlighted by a third-place finish at the NESCAC Championships. Amherst resumed play in the spring and took part in six more events, most notably the NCAA Championships in Howey-in-the-Hills, FL, as the Jeffs were one of only nine teams selected to participate in the national championships as an at-large bid. Twenty teams competed for the national title, with Amherst landing in 13th place after four rounds of play.
Amherst takes a huge hit with the graduation of Sarah Harper, last year’s top player for the Jeffs. Harper led the way at the NESCAC Championships, taking home the individual title to boost Amherst into third place, making her lone victory of the year a significant one. In 10 events last year, Harper had six top-five finishes, and placed outside of the top-10 just twice; she tied for 13th place in two events, including an impressive performance at the NCAA Championships, where she had the best finish among the NESCAC golfers. For her success, Harper was named to the NGCA East All-Region Team, and also received Duramed FUTURES Tour NGCA Division III All-America Honorable Mention honors.
Amherst’s senior class features a lone veteran leader. Ali Berman sat out the fall season but played in every match in the spring, and will carry the leadership load. Berman demonstrated her potential by placing sixth at the Vassar Invite with a score of 88, just five shots behind second-place Harper. Berman also placed 17th at the Jack Leaman Invitational, just six shots behind Harper. Amanda Otieno will represent the junior class as a new player with incredible potential.
The sophomore class features a pair of solid players who made significant contributions as first-years. Alexandra Chang-Graham played in all four matches last fall, but was busy pitching for the Lord Jeff softball team in the spring. She did, however, manage to participate at the national championships, where she gained valuable experience that should play a role this fall.
Rounding out the sophomore class is Kinne Schwartz, who perhaps is most capable of filling the void left by Harper. Schwartz closed out her fall campaign by tying for second place overall at the Wellesley Invite, matching Harper’s score of 162. Schwartz’s 46th-place finish at the national championships was good enough for the fifth best result among NESCAC players, but her final placement was no indication of her potential. After struggling through the first round, she settled down and shot 29 over par in the final three rounds; when considering that Harper shot at 25 over par in the final three rounds, one can see that Schwartz is capable of competing with the best golfers in Division III.
The Jeffs welcome a trio of first-years to the team: Tracy Jarrett, a walk-on from Chicago, IL; Alissa Korpi, former No. 1 player at Chaska High School in Minnesota, as well as Minnesota Junior Girls golf tournament winner, and; Hayley Milbourn, two-time Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland Golf Conference champion. After winning the conference title in 2005 and 2006, Milbourn was on her way to a third consecutive crown in 2007, but was disqualified from the tournament after an accidental rule infraction in which she blew the whistle on herself. As the No. 1 golfer at Roland Park Country Day School, Milbourn was a member of both the All-Metro and Maryland State Girls teams.
The loss of Harper is undoubtedly a significant one, but this year’s team has the depth and talent to improve on last year’s success. The promising young squad finds itself ranked 14th in the preseason Golf World Division III rankings, and if the Jeffs’ younger golfers play up to their potential, Amherst could not only compete for a NESCAC crown, but also return to the national championships and make another run at a title.