By Steven Shaff, NAU Media Relations
FLORENCE, Ariz. – Junior women’s golfer Dakin Banta is back. A year after injuring her shoulder in the weight room last spring, the Yuma, Ariz., native has returned to full strength and has the Northern Arizona women’s golf looking forward to the Big Sky Championships next month in Chandler.
“It has been close to a year since I had my injury,” said Banta, who tied her collegiate-best with a three-round total of 230 at the Rio Verde Invitational last week. “The fall was tough for me to get back into it. I wasn’t able to start playing until the season started. I made sure I focused at practice and did everything I needed to do to get back on the squad to travel and it is paying off.”
Banta dislocated her right shoulder and tore the labrum in right shoulder, requiring surgery that sidelined her not only for the rest of the spring but most of the summer. She also missed the Big Sky Championship won the by the Lumberjacks.
“That is one of the hardest things of my college career,” said Banta of missing the championships last season. “I was playing well and I felt like I was finally coming around. I had played really well the week before. To come back and say I could not contribute to conference was really tough for me.”
But she returned following surgery after significant time off. After playing as an individual in the NAU Mountain Shootout, Banta posted a career-best 70 in the second round of the Grand Canyon Fall Invitational. He made the playing lineup in the final fall tournament, finishing 26th. In the Red Rocks Invitational this spring, she posted back-to-back rounds of 77 to finish eighth overall. Last week, she opened with a 75 at the Rio Verde Invitational and was the top finisher for the Lumberjacks.
“When she started getting healthier, she started playing better and getting in the lineup,” said Head Coach Brad Bedortha. “She has come back this semester and worked real hard. She is practicing real well and is working on her golf swing. She has taken some coaching. She is open and receptive to some things I am showing her. She has really been steady all semester and very consistent for us.”
Banta, who has posted a career-best 76.8 stroke average this season, credits her increased maturity for her improved play.
“I think a lot of it has to do with maturity,” said Banta. “I am a junior and have been doing this for two and a half years at this point. I have a lot more confidence in my game. I don’t feel like I have to prove anything which I think was one of the hardest things for me to figure out with playing college golf.”
She is also having fun on the course and is happy off it with upcoming nuptials this summer to fiancé James Whitmer on July 17 in Yuma.
“I am out here to have fun and play well obviously,” said Banta. “I usually play well when I am having fun. It has helped me play well this year.”
Whitmer has also helped her with his support.
“He backs me in everything I do,” said Banta. “If I have a bad round, I get to complain about it to him. If I have a good round, I get to talk about how great it was. It is nice to have someone there to come home to and talk about golf.”
Banta and her teammates will take the course again starting on Monday at the 2010 Northern Migration Invitational hosted by Nebraska in Florence, Ariz. The 19-team field will participate in a 54-hole invitational to be played on the par 72, 6,227-yard Poston Butte Golf Course.
Banta will join Alexa Kim (No. 1), Stephanie Kim (3), Megan Buck (4) and Aleah Kim (5) in the lineup this week with junior Bethany Leclair playing as an individual.
The Lumberjacks have had six different players earn top individual honors on the team in seven full-field events this season.
“That was one of the hardest things for me coming into this year for me,” said Banta of cracking the depth on the team. “Not only coming back from an injury but I knew when I step onto the tee box I need to bring my A game if I want to travel. It is tough as a player knowing I really can’t falter this week. I have got to bring it. At the same time it makes every single one of us that much better. You are going to be a better player if are playing against good players. It has been beneficial for every single one of us.”
2010 Northern Migration Invitational
2010 Northern Migration Invitational
University of Nebraska
Poston Butte Golf Club
6100 W. Merrill Ranch Pkwy.
Florence, AZ 85232
For more information visit www.postonbuttegc.com
Par 72 / 6,227 Yards
Monday, March 15 - 9:30 a.m. (Shotgun)
Tuesday, March 16 - 9:30 a.m. (Shotgun)
Wednesday, March 17 - 9:30 a.m. (Shotgun)
The 19-team field will participate in a 54-hole invitational to be played on the par 72, 6,227-yard Poston Butte Golf Course.
The teams and individuals will play 18 holes on Monday and 18 holes on Tuesday, beginning with a shotgun start at 9:30 a.m. CDT both days. Pairings for Wednesday’s final round will be determined by scores through the first two rounds. Wednesday’s shotgun start is also set for 9:30 a.m. CDT. The low four individuals scores will determine the team score for each round.
2010 Northern Migration 19-Team Field
Boise State – WAC; Bradley - Missouri Valley; East Tennessee State - Atlantic Sun; Eastern Michigan – MAC; Florida International - Sun Belt; Idaho – WAC; Iowa State - Big 12; Kansas - Big 12; Kansas State - Big 12; Minnesota - Big 10; Montana - Big Sky; Morehead State - Ohio Valley; Nebraska - Big 12; Northern Arizona - Big Sky; Texas A&M-Corpus Christi – Southland; Texas-San Antonio – Southland; Texas Tech - Big 12; Towson University – CAA; Wichita State - Missouri Valley.