In this Oct. 11, 2016, file photo, Freshman Rebecca Markunas swings for her second shot during practice at the Saucon Valley Country Club. Both the women's and men's teams are heading to florida over spring break for tournaments. (Gracie Chavers/B&W Staff)

Lehigh golf teams head south for spring break

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With spring break quickly approaching, Lehigh students and staff tend to head for warmer weather.

The Lehigh golf teams are no exception.

Both the men’s and the women’s golf teams will travel to Florida in the coming days for the Mission Inn Spring Spectacular and the Seminole State Spring Break, respectively.

Junior Billy Johns of the men’s golf team said the team is excited to travel to Florida where it usually plays on good courses. Johns said the team has certain areas it’s focusing on for the upcoming season.

“We’re trying to make sure our golf swings are ready,” Johns said. “We do a lot of mechanical work in the winter, so we really go down into our swings and make adjustments based on our tendencies in the fall and any golf we’ve played after the fall season.”

Men’s golf coach Henry D’Alberto also pointed out specific focuses for his team.

“Course management and minimizing mental mistakes are the most important things I can work on with them for this season,” D’Alberto said.

While D’Alberto is focused on improving the team, he said he won’t try to do a major overhaul with the golfers’ swing techniques. Instead, he said he plans to make suggestions to his players here and there.

From March 27 to 28, the men’s team will play at the Wildcat Invitational, which is hosted by Villanova University. Johns won the invitational as a freshman.

The men’s team will then play in the Lafayette Invitational from April 2-3 and in the Finegan Invitational on April 10 at La Salle University. Finally, the team will play Lafayette on April 25 before heading to the Patriot League Championship in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, from April 29-30.

The women’s team will also be heading down to Florida, but not for the first time this season. The team previously played in the FAU Winter Warm-up, and the golfers believe the tournament helped them take their first step.

“After we went to Florida, we figured out what each person needed to work on, and they’ve been doing that,” sophomore Reagan Jahn said. “We’ve been really focusing on the team dynamic, and we’ve become a lot closer as a whole.”

Senior Elizabeth McGarrigle said the team is focusing on making sure every member is fully integrated so each woman understands the importance of her contribution.

In addition to the team’s focuses, Jahn also spoke about her personal goals.

“Last year I did well as a freshman, so this year I’m looking to do better,” Jahn said. “I was second team all-conference last year, so hopefully I’ll do the same if not improve on that.”

McGarrigle said she hopes to break the top five and be a member of the All-Patriot League first team.

After Florida, the women’s team will head to Williamsburg, Virginia, for the William and Mary Intercollegiate from March 27-28 before traveling to Annapolis for the Navy Spring Invitational from April 8-9.

It will then host the Patriot League Championship at the Saucon Valley Country Club from April 22-23.

“We’re really looking forward to competing at our home course, and we have an even better chance at winning,” Jahn said.

Jahn said having the home field advantage is especially helpful in this case because Lehigh’s course can be difficult to navigate for first-timers. She said golfers perform better on the course the more they play on it, which showed in the win the team took away from its home tournament in the fall.

“We know all the little quirks of the course, we know which holes play longer or shorter, or if you want to be on the left side or the right side,” McGarrigle said. “Especially on the greens, we know which puts are faster. Our competitors don’t really know that because they don’t get to play the course.”

McGarrigle said last year the team came “heartbreakingly” close to winning the championship. The women’s team also hosted the championship McGarrigle’s freshman year.

“It’s really neat because we hosted it my freshman year, so it’s almost like it’s coming back full circle to where I began my golf career,” McGarrigle said.

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