Madison Chitwood, a Southern Arkansas University junior Nursing major from Van Buren, Arkansas, won the women’s individual competition at the National Collegiate Disc Golf Championships on March 29, 2019. SAU’s women’s team also won the team competition at the tournament held in Appling, Georgia, on the International Disc Golf Center’s “Steady” Ed Headrick Memorial course.
Chitwood is the first Collegiate Disc Golf National Champion in Arkansas history, a fact that has made her fellow Muleriders especially proud.
“It’s really cool,” Chitwood said of the distinction. She is also proud of her team’s ranking. “We can’t wait to go back (to Nationals) next year and defend the title.”
This was only the second trip to the Nationals for the women’s team, which formed last year at SAU. They placed second in last year’s championships in Augusta, Georgia, and faced Liberty University, the 2018 Disc Golf Champion, again this year.
The women, including Whitney Brown and Dani Hunter, got in more practice this year in anticipation of another trip to the Nationals. Brown is a senior Exercise Science major from Alexander, Arkansas. Hunter is a junior Elementary Education major from Pattonville, Texas.
“We wanted to make sure we were getting out there each weekend,” Chitwood said. “Going back to the Nationals was an incentive for us to do our best.”
Preparation and past experience definitely calmed Chitwood’s nerves. “I had a lot more confidence going in this year,” she said.
Much of the team’s success this year can be owed to the fact that SAU has a quality disc golf course. “We were well-prepared, and I don’t think we could have won the national title if it had not been for our course.”
SAU’s women’s team is the only such collegiate team in Arkansas. “That’s a big deal for our University,” Chitwood said. “It will be great for us to say, if other colleges established women’s teams, that we were the first national champions in the state.”
The men’s team performed well at Nationals also. In the championship flight, the men placed 24th out of 36 teams. Individually, Clarke Henson, a senior Human Performance major from Van Buren, Arkansas, placed 35th out of 144; Jeremy Hunter, an MBA student from Magnolia, Arkansas, placed 87th out of 144; Alex Shurtleff, a sophomore Exercise Science major from Mabelvale, Arkansas, placed 103 out of 144; and Austin Mesick, a sophomore Criminal Justice major from Blossom, Texas, placed 123 out of 144 total players.
Chitwood said her skills improved by playing with the men. “It’s easy to be overwhelmed when you play with the guys,” she said, with a laugh. “But it’s important to grow together and have a similar starting place. We just want to play and compete well.”
She thanked sponsors, Dr. Andy Peeks and Sarah Adcox; Dr. Donna Allen, vice president for student affairs, and Dr. Trey Berry, president of SAU. “They have been so helpful and supportive of us.”