Salukis in the lead after Day One of the Saluki Invitational

    Freshman Kristie Yang leads all Salukis in third place after shooting a 72 on Sunday.

    Freshman Kristie Yang leads all Salukis in third place after shooting a 72 on Sunday.
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    March 30, 2014

    Day One Results Get Acrobat Reader | Day Two Pairings Get Acrobat Reader

    By Tyler Wooten

    CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Saluki women's golf is sitting atop the leaderboard at the Saluki Invitational after Day One on Sunday, putting Southern in prime position to snare its third tournament victory of the 2013-14 season.

    Southern's "A" team currently holds a two-stroke lead over Indiana State after shooting an 18-hole score of 309, helped greatly by four scored rounds below 80. The lowest of those rounds came from junior Kris Grimes, who tied an SIU career-low single-round score with a 73 on Sunday after shooting four of SIU's five birdies from the "A" squad -- including two in a row to start off the back nine. Grimes, who ranks fourth overall in individual competition, had a slow start to the spring season after a successful fall but now her last four rounds shot have been 78 or lower.

    "Kris really stepped up her game today," said SIU head coach Alexis Mihelich. "She hit it close and made some birdies, I'm really proud of her."

    Seniors Ashleigh Rushing (tied for 13th, 78), Cassie Rushing (tied for 16th, 79) and freshman Xianmei Jin (tied for 16th, 79) each did their part in SIU's effort on Sunday as well by keeping their scores in the 70s. Sophomore Mattie Lindner shot an 84 as SIU's fifth competitor on the "A" squad, putting her in a tie for 39th overall.

    SIU's "B" squad held their own as well, finishing the day tied for ninth overall after shooting a 332. Freshman Brooke Cusumano leads the crew and ranks third among all Salukis and tied for ninth overall after shooting a 77 with three birdies. Whitney Nugent (tied for 32nd, 83), Alexis Gatton (tied for 50th, 86), Morgan Reimler (tied for 50th, 86) and Savannah Myers (tied for 58th, 88) each played on Southern's second team as well, which finished ahead of three Division I schools on Monday. Prior to today's competition, only Cusumano and Gatton have played in a tournament all season.

    "This team has some depth, and the players on the B team played consistent today to show that," Mihelich said.

    However, Southern's best performance of the day didn't come from either the A or B squad. Freshman Kristie Yang, who has not played in a tournament for SIU since Sept. 8-9 (Redbird Invitational), leads all Salukis as an individual competitor in third place after shooting a career-low even-par 72. Yang shot four birdies on the day and only went over-par on three holes.

    "The surprise for the round is Kristie, who isn't playing for either our A or B team and fired off a 72," Mihelich said. "She played with something to prove and I'm happy her hard work in the last week is paying off."

    Southern will head back to Hickory Ridge Golf Course on Monday, where the second and final round will begin with a shotgun start at 9 a.m. If the Salukis are able to hold on for its third tournament win of the season it would be the most since SIU won four in 2011-12 -- Mihelich's first season at SIU.

    "My hopes for tomorrow is that the seniors will bounce back and play their final Saluki Invitational round in their SIU careers with a smile," Mihelich said. "They struggled today but I know they are persistent and will come out firing tomorrow."

    SIU A Team Individual Results (Through 18 holes):
    4. Kris Grimes: 73
    t-13. Ashleigh Rushing: 78
    t-16. Cassie Rushing: 79
    t-16. Xianmei Jin: 79
    t-39. Mattie Lindner: 84

    SIU B Team Individual Results (Through 18 holes):
    3. Kristie Yang: 72 *
    t-9. Brooke Cusumano: 77
    t-32. Whitney Nugent: 83
    t-50. Alexis Gatton: 86
    t-50. Morgan Reimler: 86
    t-58. Savannah Myers: 88

    * = Competed as an individual

    Team Scores (Through 18 holes):
    1. Southern Illinois: 309
    2. Indiana State: 311
    3. Chicago State: 320
    T4. Washington University (St. Louis): 322
    T4. IUPUI: 322
    6. Western Illinois: 324
    7. Evansville: 325
    8. IPFW: 326
    T9. Southern Illinois (B Team): 332
    T9. Nebraska-Omaha: 332
    11. Loyola: 335
    12. SIU-Edwardsville: 336
    13. John A. Logan: 352
    14. Rend Lake: 362