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Braves pluck the birds at Redbird Invitational

Bradley capped a successful weekend at the Redbird Invitational. Photo courtesy Bradley Athletics and Josh Schwam.

The Bradley women’s golf team gave a stellar performance this past weekend, winning the Redbird Invitational. Along with beating conference rival Illinois State at their home tournament, senior Grace Aromando placed first individually.

Bradley took first place in the 16-team tournament, posting a total score of 865, one over par. The home team took second, shooting one more stroke than the Braves.

Head coach Halley Morell was extremely proud of this group for achieving the victory.

“It’s been a long time coming, we’ve been working really hard,” Morell said. “We made a lot of breakthroughs last spring that maybe didn’t show up in our performances last spring, but we could see them as a team. We took a lot of that momentum through the summer, worked hard and came back here to do it.”

Aromando had a stellar performance, to say the least. Not only did the senior golfer win the tournament by four strokes, posting a score of 200, 16 under par, but she also put her name in the record books.

Aromando’s third round score of 66 tied the record for the lowest round in Bradley women’s golf history. Her first and second round scores of 67 tied her for third. To put it simply, three of the top five best rounds of Bradley golf were all shot by Aromando last weekend.

“I feel very proud, I feel very excited about what it can do for my future and what it could do for the team’s future,” Aromando said. “Overall, it keeps me looking forward.”

To no one’s surprise, Aromando’s performance earned her Missouri Valley Golfer of the Week for the second week in a row.

The great performances didn’t stop at Aromando. Freshman Jillian Cosler tied for seventh, posting a score of 217, one over par. Cosler placed 11th last week at the A-Ga-Ming Invitational, proving herself as a strong opponent on the course. Cosler is very happy to be on the Hilltop and is trying to make an impact for her new team.

“I’m just excited,” Cosler said. “I love having a team [where] we’re all here to compete, we’re all here to win, and so just doing my best to play as best as possible is really the only goal. I didn’t really care about the place, I just wanted to play the best I could in the moment.”

Sophomore Allison Pacocha placed ninth with a final score of 218, one shot behind Cosler. Junior Maria Perakis tied for 19th, shooting a 223, seven over par.

Graduate student Mara Flaherty placed 61st, shooting a 233, 17 over par. Junior Kathryn McNease shot 19 over, totaling 235 and finishing tied for 64th place.

This win was very special for Morell, but more importantly for the team.

“None of them had won a tournament before,” Morell said. “Now when we’re in contention in the future, they know they can do it because we’ve done it before.”

Saying the team enjoyed the win would be an understatement, but now they are trying to center themselves and focus on the next challenge.

“I think it brings a whole ‘nother fire that we haven’t seen before,” Aromando said. “There’s been girls on this team for up to five years and have never seen this kind of fuel. We’ve been fueled by some disappointment, fueled by passion for the game, but never fueled to continue winning, cause we never had that initial win. I think it will start a new fire underneath us to keep going.”

The message was heard around the Valley. Bradley took down a strong ISU team at home as well as fellow conference foes like Northern Iowa, Drake, Indiana State and Valparaiso. You don’t want to come to an invite and see Bradley as your competition, and Morell said the rest of the conference knows it too.

“They know the talent we have on this team,” Morell said. “We have to keep moving forward and keep working in the right direction.”

There is plenty of time before the conference tournament, which isn’t until the middle of April. However, if the Valley didn’t have this team on watch before, they certainly do now.

“Now that we’ve proven ourselves to the Missouri Valley, we just wanna keep moving forward and keep doing our best and it will all show up in the end,” Cosler said. “Who’s put the work in and who can perform when it counts.”

The golfers have a little bit of time to rest up and savor this victory, although they are already putting the gears in motion to move forward. The Braves’ next outing is the Kansas State Marilyn Smith Sunflower Invitational on Oct. 2 and 3.

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