Hanna Harrison is a planner, one who says big change on short notice – like the kind last spring’s COVID pandemic brought – “kind of freaks me out.” It seemed like every few hours last April, something was changing.
Harrison and senior classmate Evelyn Arguelles huddled.
“It wasn’t even a question,” Harrison said of deciding to play a fifth year at Dallas Baptist, an NCAA Division II school in Dallas. “I just felt like – we all felt like – last year was our year. When it got cut short for me and (fellow senior) Evelyn (Arguelles) it wasn’t the end of our story at DBU. We wanted it to more be on our terms than COVID.”
Fast forward a year, to TPC of Michigan. Harrison has just won a point in the title match at the NCAA Division II Women’s Championship. When she made that par putt on No. 18 it to earn a point over Lynn’s Camila Madariaga (Division II decides its national champion in a medal match-play format), Arguelles rushed the green.
“The whole week, we just kinda knew it was our time,” Harrison said of the feeling that surrounded DBU’s first national-title run. “… Evelyn came down – she got a flight and landed at 2 a.m. the day of our final round and surprised us all on the green. Even she knew.”
Unfinished business, indeed.
DBU won eight times this season, including at the 41-team Kiawah Island Classic, where the Patriots were the only Division II team in a Division I field. There were setbacks, though. DBU finished second by 16 shots at the West Regional despite being a heavy favorite. The team came in fifth in national-championship stroke play – 25 shots behind Limestone University, which then garnered the No. 1 seed in match play.
DBU has been knocking at the door for years when it comes to winning a national title. In 2017, when Harrison was a freshman, the Patriots finished one shot behind Barry when the national champion was still decided by 72 holes of stroke play. The next year, they finished third.
In 2019, the first year medal match play was implemented, DBU fell in the first round of match play after a 10-win season.
National-championship stroke play matters most because of the seeding. As the No. 5 seed, DBU drew a quarterfinal pairing against two-time national champion Indy.
DBU freshman Olivia Mitchell’s seven-shot victory over five-time All-American Pilar Echeverria in the final match was key in DBU advancing, 3-1-1.
In the semifinals, DBU made it past Grand Valley State by a 3-2 margin. The Patriots faced Lynn for the title the next day.
Halfway through the championship match, DBU was squarely behind the eight ball.
“We were down in every match at the turn, which is kind of fitting – we always, for 16 years, our whole motto has been every shot always matters, all five girls no matter the situation,” Trapp said.
Lynn put the first two points on the board before Faith DeLaGarza increased her advantage on Honor Keilty from one shot on the 13th tee to seven shots on the 18th green. It was a big point to put DBU back in the game.
In the match behind DeLaGarza, Harrison had spent the back nine clawing her way back. Medal match play is a format ripe for big swings – Harrison’s chip-in on No. 5 for double bogey (after watching her ball sail over her head and out of bounds after hitting a tree) – is a prime example of that. It kept her from losing insurmountable ground.
Harrison and Madariaga were tied entering the final hole but Harrison edged her, making a three-and-a-half footer for a match-winning par.
“She was 3 down after 11 and I knew we needed that match,” Trapp said. “I just knew being a senior, just not going to give in, she battled and battled and got all of it back and won on 18 to win by one, which we had to have that point.”
At that point, Trapp ran back to Mitchell in the anchor match for a conversation that secured the championship. Mitchell was trailing Lynn’s Helen Kreuzer, who had won the individual title earlier in the week, by two shots on the 17th tee. She cut that deficit to one shot, but likely needed a birdie on 18 to win it.
Facing a 148-yard approach into the green, Mitchell reached for her 7-iron. Trapp stopped her after a practice swing.
“I think he said, ‘How amped are you right now?’” Mitchell remembered. “… My heartbeat was racing, I was shaking over the ball.
“We switched clubs to the 8 and I was feeling pretty confident. Coach thinks this is the right club, I think this is the right club, just hit the shot, and I hit it. As soon as it left the face, I was like, that’s going to be pretty good. It was on the pin the whole time.”
Trapp’s “Be good, baby!” rang out as Mitchell’s shot landed 5 feet from the hole.
“It started rolling a little bit, it ends up like three and a half feet,” she said. “As soon as it hit the green, everybody just started cheering, like roars. I’ve never really been in that position before, to win something that important.”
Kreuzer took her time reading the birdie putt from 20 feet, which gave Mitchell time to control her breathing. Trapp told her she’d already made the putt, and her nerves subsided.
It’s true: Every team practice at DBU ends with a team pressure putt, whether that be from 12 feet or 3 feet.
This time, Mitchell thinks her eyes were closed when it went in.
“That moment after, I wish everyone could experience what I felt, what Coach felt, what all our parents felt,” Mitchell said days later, admitting that she still couldn’t stop smiling at the memory. “It was probably the best moment of my whole life. It was so cool.”
For years, it has felt like a matter of time for DBU to be in this moment. The Patriots are the fourth team to win its first NCAA Division II championship team in the past seven years.
“Everything we do at practice and who I recruit is for moments like that,” Trapp said of the pressure his players faced and conquered. “…They want those moments or they don’t come here.”
Indianapolis, Dallas Baptist among 12 teams to advance to NCAA Division II Women's National Championship
Women's college golf team of the week: Dallas Baptist
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