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Saturday, June 22, 2024
The Observer

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Veterans lead Saints in first season under Abby Clark

Johnson, Benge produce at forefront of Holy Cross alumna’s first head coaching season

The 2023-24 season kicked off a new era for the Holy Cross women’s golf team. For the first time in school history, the Holy Cross women did not share a head coach with the men’s squad. Furthermore, the program’s first dedicated head coach, Abby Clark, marked her first season as a collegiate head coach with her spring at Holy Cross.

Clark, a 2019 alumna of the Holy Cross women’s golf program, formerly received All-Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Recognition honors in her college playing days. She entered the season excited to closely watch and lead her four-player roster and from the start preached smart golf as a key to success and team development out on the course.

Overall, the Saints competed in four two-day gatherings throughout the spring. They opened their season with an eighth-place result at the Purgatory Intercollegiate in Noblesville, Indiana. Holy Cross then entered April with a trip to the Conference Clash Cup in Springfield, Illinois, before claiming fifth place in The Battle at Blackthorn. To close out the season, the Saints competed at the CCAC Conference Tournament in Silvis, Illinois, but could not crack the top four on the team leaderboard.

Although the Saints didn’t find a ton of high-end team success this season, they brought back a pair of experienced golfers who led the program once again in 2024. Senior Annika Johnson, the team’s most seasoned contributor, paced the Saints with an 11th-place score of 189 at the two-day CCAC Conference Tournament. Before that, she tied for 26th place with a 177 at the Purgatory Intercollegiate while also producing a fifth-place count of 171 two weeks later in Springfield.

Junior Sierra Benge typically followed Johnson closely on the leaderboard, culminating with a 15th-place score of 192 in the conference championship. She also broke 200 at the Purgatory Intercollegiate and the Conference Clash Cup, respectively taking 34th place and eighth place in those two competitions.

Outside of the team’s two veterans, Holy Cross brought two first-year golfers into the mix in 2024. Freshmen Eva De La Rosa and Savannah Payne-Gall entered the fold, with De La Rosa gaining valuable experience at the CCAC Conference Tournament. There, she finished 25th with a two-day score of 240. De La Rosa previously claimed 43rd at the Purgatory Intercollegiate and 15th at the Conference Clash Cup, while Payne-Gall finished in 42nd place at the season-opening competition.

Coming into the 2024 season, Clark mentioned that she hopes to gradually build the roster to include six or seven golfers in the year to come. For now, the Saints will get underway with their first full offseason under the leadership of their new head coach.