Stripp adjusting to new role as Mavs' most experienced player
The past three years, Michelle Stripp was the underclassman.
She often didn’t have a say and had to go along with what Afton Balling, Jessica Berve and Jennifer Hilts decided on road trips with the Colorado Mesa University women’s golf team.
Balling, Berve and Hilts graduated.
Stripp, now a senior, is the only returning player for Mesa, which last spring qualified for the NCAA Division II Championships for the first time in school history.
The Mavericks begin the spring season today at the Montana State-Billings Invitational in Billings, Mont. Colorado Mesa hosts the NCAA West Super Regional May 3–5 at Tiara Rado Golf Course.
“It’s definitely different,” said Stripp, who is from Glenwood Springs. “It’s new girls and new personalities. It’s a whole new team. It’s a different environment entirely.
“There’s a generation gap almost. It’s just four years, but I feel like: What did I miss? I’m trying to catch up. I’m like, ‘Let’s go out. Oh! You guys aren’t old enough.’ “
CMU coach Scott Hansen said Stripp is handling her new role well.
“Michelle’s role has changed dramatically,” Hansen said. “She was in the back seat of the van and went wherever the seniors wanted (to eat). We had some dominant personalities last year. She’s adjusted and has taken the younger players under her wing.”
The Colorado Mesa senior is surrounded by six freshmen and a sophomore on the team this year.
“In the fall, we had the No. 5 player rotate at each tournament,” Hansen said. “Everybody on the roster has played in at least one tournament.”
Freshman Zoe Woodworth (Calumet, Mich.) has been the most consistent, Hansen said.
“She has an outstanding short game,” Hansen said. “She doesn’t hit it all that far, but she’s not that far off. She’s the one you can count on.”
Sophomore Summer Igo and freshmen Torrie Sauer, Audrey Meyer, Sarah Robbins and Lucille Van Vooren are competing for the final three travel spots.
“It’s getting down and working on their game,” Hansen said. “I go back to the freshman year of the girls that made it to nationals (as seniors last year), and their scores weren’t that great. They would finish in the middle of the pack. As they got used to what to expect and started playing courses on the second go-around, they improved and started to play better.”
Freshman Jessica Sinner, a Fruita Monument High School graduate, would’ve played every tournament, but she’s ineligible and won’t play this spring.
“The team is very close in scores,” Stripp said. “We have good potential. If they keep it up, they’ll be a solid group. They just need to get college experience under their belts.”
As for Stripp, her focus is on enjoying her final competitive collegiate season.
“Going to nationals last year was pretty good,” she said. “That was the all-time goal. Doing that with the team I grew up with was pretty good. I want to have fun and enjoy my senior year. That’s all I want to do my senior year.”
Stripp will graduate in May and has a marketing job with a local Realtor.