The goals set by first-year coach Garrett Runion seemed like lofty ones considering the past couple of struggling seasons for LSU women’s golf:
• Be one of the final eight teams in match play in the Southeastern Conference championships.
• Earn an NCAA regional berth.
The first objective the Lady Tigers just missed, finishing four strokes behind Ole Miss, which finished eighth in stroke play but went on to win the SEC championship. But on the second one LSU came through, earning a berth in the NCAA East Lansing (Michigan) regional, which begins Monday at Michigan State's Forest Akers West Golf Course.
Now, as you can imagine, Runion’s team wants a little bit more. Though seeded 13th in East Lansing, the Lady Tigers want to be one of the six teams that advance to the NCAA Championships, May 17-22 at The Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
“We’re definitely still focused,” Runion said. “Looking at the teams ahead of us, we’ve seen all but about three. And we’ve beaten just about everybody else at least once.
“We have a little adversity stacked against us with the different grass and the climate that we don’t see very much. But the girls are excited.”
The other big performance goal going into this season, beyond returning to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2016, was the season itself.
“Our number one goal was to improve every player’s skill set,” said Runion, a former LSU men’s golfer and assistant coach.
The Lady Tigers lowered their team scoring average to date from 301.96 last season to 298.15.
“Our current team scoring average is the seventh- or eighth-best in LSU history,” Runion said. “At times we feel we did well and at times we did bad, but it’s encouraging when you review those stats.”
The Lady Tigers are traveling with the same five-player lineup they’ve had most of this season: senior Kathleen Gallagher, junior Monica Dibildox, sophomore Kendall Griffin and freshmen Alden Wallace and Presley Baggett.
Dibildox has been LSU’s most consistent player with a 74.42 stroke average. But it’s Gallagher (75.23 average), daughter of former PGA touring pro Jim Gallagher and ex-LSU golfer Cissye Meeks Gallagher, who has been the heart of the squad.
“We’ve rallied around her,” Runion said. “She played in regionals her freshman year. She’s our only player with postseason experience.
“The younger girls are trying to fight a little extra hard for her.”
Live scoring is available on GolfStat.com.