Sports

Distant freshman wastes no time establishing herself

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Kim, from Saipan, was the first RMAC Women’s Golfer of the Week award winner of the year; Sept. 13. Courtesy of gothunderwolves.com
Entering the first ThunderWolf women’s golf tournament of the season on Sept. 10, at the West Texas A&M Stampede, in Amarillo, Tex., redshirt freshman Leina Kim had no idea what she was about to accomplish.

In the first round of her first college golf tournament, Kim shot the lowest individual score in women’s T-Wolf golf history, a 73, which was tied for first.

Even after her first round as a college golfer, she was unaware of the barrier she broke.

“I didn’t know (about the score) until that evening when I read the article,” Kim said. “I was proud of myself.”

The next day, in round two, Kim shot an 83, which tied her for 12th with a score of 156, contributing to a sixth place T-Wolf finish.

The T-Wolves finished behind No. 13 Midwestern State, No.7, Lubbock Christian University and No. 11, Wayland Baptist University.

Two days later, after a record-breaking debut, on Sept. 13, Kim was named the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Women’s Golfer of the Week.

“It (the award) felt good,” Kim said. “I felt like I was just making so much improvement.”

However, the accomplishment also came as a surprise to Kim.

“It was a hard week for sure because my scores were like going up and down,” Kim said. “One day I would be really good, the next day I’ll be awful.”

However, the biggest shock thus far for Kim, who is from the Commonwealth of the Northern Marina Islands in Saipan, could have came when head coach Greg Dillon recruited her.

“Coach found me. I don’t know how,” Kim said. “It was pretty cool.”

Following her sixth place finish on Sept. 11, Kim finished tied for ninth at the Grizzly Invitational in Alamosa, Colo., second at the Regis University Invitational in Lakewood, Colo., and tied for sixth at the Mustang Intercollegiate in Silver City, N.M.

In those tournaments, aided by contributions from Kim, the T-Wolves women’s golf team, who were picked to finish second in the RMAC, was able to finish first at the Grizzly Hills invitational and Regis University Invitational, and second at the Mustang Intercollegiate, behind the Western New Mexico Mustangs by one stroke. The Mustangs were picked to finish first in the RMAC, ahead of the T-Wolves by one first place vote.

“I’m more of a team player than an individual,” Kim said. “I don’t pay attention to the whole individual thing; if our team does well, then we do well. If not, then it’s fine, we can always practice and do better next time.”

Although Kim has only been golfing at the college level for one season, she had plenty of preparation for her first year as an active student athlete, after a grueling redshirt season in 2011.

“It got me prepared to like going to practice and then getting ready for school and things like that,” Kim said. “When everyone was out traveling, I was here practicing on my own, trying to get better for this season. At it was the same time awful, I hated it.”

Although the fall season ended on Oct. 7, Kim recognized areas to improve upon going into the start of the spring season.

“I’m going to be trying to play better and keep my focus on the game,” Kim said. “I want to focus more on myself playing.”

Hopefully, to Kim, such adjustments would be enough to earn the RMAC Freshman of the Year award at the end of the year.

The T-Wolf women’s golf squad will resume in March 17, 2013, at the Midwestern State Invite in Wichita Falls, Texas, with only one goal in mind.

“Winning RMAC again,” Kim said