Sports

HSU picked to defend GAC Crown in preseason poll

By Henderson State Sports Information

RUSSELLVILLE — The Henderson State women’s golf team looks to run it back in 2022 as the Reddies came in atop the Great American Conference Preseason Poll to defend their 2021 GAC Championship crown.

Henderson State and Arkansas Tech each received 60 total votes to lead the league, but the defending conference champs edged out the Golden Suns in first-place votes, 5-4, to get the preseason nod.

Henderson returns all five of its girls who clinched the GAC title for HSU last season, including Allie Bianchi, who became only the second Reddie ever to qualify as an individual for Nationals last year.

The Reddies’ golf program did have to replace one key component of last year’s team in former head coach Forrest Schultz. Schultz is succeeded by first-year head coach Colton Cowan, who understands the position and responsibility he has with taking over a program like Henderson State.

“Being handed off a team from coach Schultz, you can’t give him enough credit [for] developing such a strong program within the conference and even within the region,” Cowan said. “The trait to win is a unique one and it’s something that is definitely learned and inherited through time.”

After winning the GAC in 2021, HSU found themselves one spot shy of qualifying for Nationals as a team after finishing fourth in the Central Regional. With the regional being played at Henderson’s home course in Hot Springs this year – a place where HSU won the HSU Spring Invitational and the conference championship a year ago – expectations are sky-high for the Reddies coming into this season.

“In order to win, we have to learn from the losses and honestly take responsibility and not transfer the blame,” Cowan said. “If we don’t truly take responsibility for the actions, then we as individuals are not able to grow and develop into the championship style of golfers that we’re capable of. Championships are not won during the tournament, they are won way before.”

Henderson State will get its 2021-22 season rolling this fall with five tournaments on the docket, beginning with the Central Region Preview in Blue Springs, Missouri, on Sept. 7 and 8.

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