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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Quinnipiac golf ignoring rankings snub, chasing MAAC four-peat

Peyton McKenzie
Senior Aimee Uchida hits a drive at The Farms Country Club in Wallingford during the Quinnipiac Classic on Oct. 9, 2023.

 After winning three-straight MAAC championships and losing little of last year’s roster, you would assume Quinnipiac golf polled first in the conference entering this season. Yet it didn’t.

In the 2024 MAAC Women’s Golf Preseason Coaches’ Poll, the Bobcats ranked second behind Albany, despite earning one more first-place vote than the Great Danes. After Quinnipiac and Albany finished one and two every year since 2017, the coaches picked the Danes to win the MAAC for the first time since 2019.

Playing golf year-round in Connecticut is difficult. As temperatures drop, courses are unplayable, shifting the workouts inside to a simulation room.

“The start of the spring season, it’s always tough to tell what we’re doing,” head coach John O’Connor said. “We’re inside. We haven’t been on a golf course. What they’re doing is getting stronger. One of the things that we have focused on over the years is getting the team physically fit.”

Senior Aimee Uchida knows it’s time to get ready for the next tournament.

“It’s a transition process, but by the time we hit that second week (back from winter break), we’re back at the simulation room,” Uchida said. “We’re back in the gym trying to be the best that we can be by the time our first tournament approaches because once that first tournament is over, it’s the next one and the next one.”

While getting back into the swing of things was difficult, in the first tournament of the 2024 season — the Atlantic Invitational — the Bobcats finished second. Five Bobcat golfers participated in the tournament: Uchida, graduate student Leeyen Peralta, juniors Fuge Zhang and Meg Yoshida and freshman Samantha Galantini.

Peralta won MAAC Golfer of the Week after her performance at the Atlantic Invitational where she tied for seventh, shooting a 9-over-par. She had the best score on par-3 holes in the tournament, finishing with a 1-under-par in the 12 par-3 holes in the weekend.

Before the invitational, O’Connor named Peralta a captain for the spring season. She’ll lead a group striving for its fourth-straight MAAC championship.

“We’ve all been working hard in the simulation room, chipping practice and especially in the weight room, we all push each other,” Peralta said. “We try to make it as fun and competitive as possible.”

That extra push from teammates has made Peralta a tournament winner and a MAAC superstar.

“(Peralta) has had an unbelievable season, so far this year,” O’Connor said. “She’s won two tournaments. She has a remarkable stroke average … She’s a superstar. (Peralta’s) goal is probably to win the conference.”

Graduate student Leeyen Peralta waits to hit her putt at The Farms Country Club in Wallingford during the Quinnipiac Classic on Oct. 9, 2023. (Peyton McKenzie)

For Zhang, it was her first tournament since the 2023 MAAC championship where she shot a conference record 1-under-par, propelling the Bobcats to the win. During the Atlantic Invitational, she improved each round, starting in the first round shooting 6-over-par, then shooting 2-over-par in the final round. The Tianjin, China, native also finished 1-under-par on the nine par-5 holes during the tournament.

Uchida and Yoshida both finished within a stroke of each other, with Uchida finishing in a tie for 13th and Yoshida finishing in 15th. Uchida finished fourth on the par-4 holes with a score of 3-over-par over the 33 par-4 holes on the weekend. 

Galantini ended her first collegiate half-season with a third-place finish at the Quinnipiac Classic while also placing 16th at a loaded Lady Blue Hen Invitational to complete the fall season. During the Atlantic Invitational, the New Jersey native finished in 27th place by shooting a 22-over-par.

Having previously competed in the Girls Junior PGA Championship before joining Quinnipiac, Galantini possesses the skills needed to rebound from this performance as the MAAC championships loom closer.

“Samantha is just solid, she’s consistent all the time. If she has an unusual score she bounces right back,” O’Connor said. “The bad scores don’t affect her. She’s solid all the time. She’s gonna be a good golfer for us in (the) future.”

The Bobcats have the chance to repeat as MAAC champions with their improving skills. With golfers like Zhang, Peralta and Galantini — just to name a few — the Bobcats have an adept group going into their three remaining tournaments before the MAAC championships.

Quinnipiac looks to continue its top status when the team travels to Oldsmar, Florida, to take part in Butler’s Don Benbow Spring Invitational on March 11 and 12.

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About the Contributors
Ryan Johanson
Ryan Johanson, Associate Sports Editor
Peyton McKenzie
Peyton McKenzie, Creative Director

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