OBU's golf teams are poised to make a strong move forward in 2005 after both the men and women had successful fall showings.
"This past fall, the teams both closed the gap in competing with traditional powers in our region - the women probably more so than the men," said OBU golf coach Rick Cody. "Both continue to work hard in getting to that comfort zone of knowing we can beat any team on a given day with the right preparation."
The OBU women are ranked eighth in the preseason poll and the men, thanks to some internal competition.
"The women are on the verge of doing something special, qualifying for the nationals," said OBU coach Rick Cody. "Having said that, I know we must go out and earn it this spring. I have to really keep this team on an even keel to achieve this goal. We cannot be looking ahead. We have to earn it in the eyes of the national rankers, short of winning the regional championship and getting the automatic bid."
After missing the national tournament last season by poll votes, OBU has been strengthened with the addition of freshman Maggie Cole from Aztec, N.M.
"Maggie Coles has asserted herself into the lead role," said Cody. "She is by far the most consistent player on the women's team."
With her win at Southwestern (Kan.) and top five finishes in four tournaments, Cole has emerged as a leader and her confidence is contagious.
"I have noticed a change in the ladies' demeanor," Cody said. "Confidence in golf is a great equalizer and these girls have that confidence. Watching what Maggie has done spurs the others on to work harder. I sincerely believe they are in a position to win each time they tee it up, but how we are perceived by other coaches in the rankings won't mean much if we don't go out and justify it."
Cody also credit Jennifer Mann, a transfer from Redlands Junior College, with bringing a key ingredient to the team.
"Jennifer is our team leader, in that she keeps the mood loose and cheers the others to play well," Cody said. "Camaraderie is a big plus for this team. Each player gets along with the others and that important because we are together so much."
On the men's side, the emergence of Russell Kern has given the team a little more life.
"Russell Kern, our sole senior, really stepped up his game and even won an individual title," said Cody. "That's good for the future of the men's team. Inner competition between Russell and Joshua Bryan, our No. 1 player, has taken on a new sense of urgency. Nobody wants to lose their No. 1 spot, so I know Joshua will come back this spring ready to show who is No. 1."
Cody said that this young team will need to find consistency quickly, which can come with help from the leaders.
"The key will be getting the young guns to play more consistently," Cody said. "Joshua and Russell lead by example and the others seem to develop their practice techniques form seeing the amount of time and intensity those two put in. In another couple of tourneys this team will begin to reap the benefits of that hard work."