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Kent State continues arguably the most incredible winning streak in women's college golf history

Nothing is a given in golf, especially when you’re talking about college golf, where the complexion of a team can change dramatically from one season to the next. Think of all the variables a coach must contend with when overseeing a program: injuries, roster turnover, swing changes, academic issues, a pandemic, to name a few.

And yet on Saturday, Kent State won the Mid-American Conference Women’s Championship. Again. Again as in for the 22nd consecutive time, or every year the tournament has been held.

And, again, it wasn’t really even close. With a closing eight-over 296 at Ohio’s Silver Lake Country Club, the Golden Flashes beat second-place Northern Illinois by 36 strokes.

Leading the way individually was sophomore Caley McGinty, who took medalist honors with a four-under 212 total after a closing 70. (Kent State players have won the individual MAC title 18 times in 22 years.) Teammate Emily Price finished runner-up, five strokes back. The rest of the starting lineup—Chloe Salort (T-3/224), Kory Nielsen (seventh/227) and Mayka Hoogeboom (ninth/230)—all finished in the top 10.

The victory was the first conference crown for Lisa Strom, a former LPGA player who became the third coach in program history in July 2019, following Mike Morrow (who retired in 2013) and Greg Robertson (who left to take over the women’s job at Oklahoma State). The excitement of the new job was muted last spring when COVID wiped out the college golf postseason, the team ranked in the top 15 nationally.

Strom finally got the chance to lead her team into the postseason. You wouldn’t blame her if she was a little nervous, given the streak she was inheriting. But she felt confident that her team would live up to the challenge.

“We are really proud of the tradition we have, the long line of championship trophies we have,” Strom told the Record-Courier on Saturday. “We don’t want to let go of that. We gave it our best effort today.”

Inconsistent record keeping makes it difficult to put Kent State’s streak in context, but it is believed to be the longest ever in Division I women’s golf. Pepperdine won 14 straight West Coast Conference titles from 2002 to 2015 and Duke claimed the ACC title 14 straight years from 1996 to 2008.

Given the championship was played only 20 minutes from campus, there was some extra incentive for the team to play well. “It’s a special venue for us, and we had many spectators supporting us. I told the team to enjoy it before the final round. I wanted them to have some fun when we were only 20 minutes down the road from Kent.”

Ranked 13th nationally, Kent State will learn which NCAA Regional it is playing in on Wednesday, when the Division I postseason bids are revealed.