Senior Cassie Rushing is now tied for the all-time lead in rounds under 80 at SIU with 69 total rounds.
Oct. 22, 2013
By Tyler Wooten
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- Saluki women's golf held on for victory in dramatic fashion at the final round of the Blue Raider Invitational hosted by Middle Tennessee State on Tuesday, winning by one stroke over the host school.
Southern shot 304 in the final round in miserable conditions, which was just good enough to stave off a charging Middle Tennessee State by one stroke for the tournament crown. SIU continued to rewrite the record book this week as its 54-hole score of 897 is the second-best score in school history. The score is also the best during head coach Alexis Mihelich's tenure at SIU by 11 strokes. The victory is SIU's second in 2013 and the seventh in three seasons under Mihelich.
Freshman Xianmei Jin finished third overall after shooting a 73 in the final round despite the weather to push her 54-hole total to 216 after shooting a 70 and 73 on Day One. Her 54-hole score now is the best for Southern in 2013, ranks as the second-best all-time at SIU and the best during the Mihelich era by one stroke. Jin has now finished within the top-15 twice in the last three tournaments.
Senior Cassie Rushing had the best round for SIU on Day Two after shooting a 72 to finish fifth overall and put her three-round total at 221 -- which, ties as the fifth-best 54-hole score in SIU history. After winning the individual Blue Raider title in 2012, Rushing has now finished within the top-five in consecutive seasons.
Rushing's final-round 72 was her 69th career round below 80, which ties Kelly Gerlach for the all-time SIU lead. Rushing has now finished in the top-five twice and the top-ten in three of five tournaments in 2013.
Senior Ashleigh Rushing (tied for 31st, 230), freshman Brooke Cusumano (tied for 38th, 232) and junior Kris Grimes (tied for 41st, 234) were the remaining Saluki competitors. In all, 13 of the 15 rounds played were below 80.
"It's amazing we were able to hang on to the lead and win," Mihelich said. "It was rainy, wet and cold, but we played good enough not to slip. We were the underdogs at this event, so anytime you upset the field it puts a smile on the players' faces," Mihelich said.
Southern started off the fall season with finishes of eighth and 14th, but quickly rebounded Oct. 1 at the UMKC Fall Invitational where SIU took the tournament title and followed that up with a third-place finish at the MSU Payne Stewart Memorial on Oct. 15.
"We had a bumpy start to the season, but finished playing the kind of golf we are capable of playing," Mihelich said. "When you play to the level of your potential it's a fulfilling accomplishment."
Saluki women's golf will resume Mar. 3, 2014, at the Racer Classic hosted by Murray State.
1. Southern Illinois: 298-295-304 (897)
2. Middle Tennessee State: 303-297-298 (898)
3. Lamar: 296-300-306 (902)
4. Morehead State: 304-295-305 (904)
t-5. Jacksonville State: 304-292-311 (907)
t-5. South Alabama: 298-303-306 (907)
7. Troy: 306-299-306 (911)
8. Murray State: 302-309-305 (916)
9. Tennessee Tech: 307-306-304 (917)
10. Arkansas State: 315-299-308 (922)
11. Arkansas-Little Rock: 313-305-312 (930)
12. Belmont: 312-310-309 (931)
13. Missouri-Kansas City: 314-306-321 (941)
14. Texas-El Paso: 319-316-311 (946)
15. Austin Peay: 322-311-323 (956)