Hosterman's heroics help Rocky to nationals

2012-05-14T22:45:00Z 2012-05-15T11:56:05Z Hosterman's heroics help Rocky to nationalsBy BILL BIGHAUS bbighaus@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

On the day she was offered a golf scholarship to Rocky Mountain College, Rachel Hosterman said "the room was spinning.

"It was everything I had worked for," she recalled of the moment. "It was everything that I dreamed of."

Four years later, the 5-foot-1 senior from Sierra Vista, Ariz., is leaving the nationally ranked Battlin' Bears program with a dizzying array of team and individual accomplishments.

Hosterman said she had fretted in high school over how she was going to pay for college, but has since blossomed into one of the best things to have ever happened to golf at Rocky.

She and her teammates will be competing at the 20th annual NAIA championships beginning Tuesday at Link Hills Country Club in Greeneville, Tenn. It will be Hosterman's third trip to nationals with the Bears.

A successful junior and prep player in Arizona, she has quietly posted seven tournament victories during her Rocky career, which now ranks as one of the school's winningest.

That total doesn't count the recent 36-hole championship match against favored Westminster College at the Frontier Conference tournament in Missoula. Her showing there, though, definitely falls into the momentous occasion category.

Hosterman's heroics included putting together back-to-back rounds of 76 and 74 for a team-low 6-over par 150 in the third-seeded Bears' 630-645 conquest over the top-seeded Griffins at Larchmont Golf Course.

"It just seemed like everything finally came together," she said of the team's and her own performance. "That was the best we've played."

That victory also secured No. 22-ranked Rocky's second conference tournament title in three years and a 13th trip to nationals in the last 14 years.

While the 22-year-old Hosterman, born in Guadalajara, Mexico, used golf as her vehicle to get into college, the business management degree she has just received, the friendships she has enjoyed with her teammates and the guidance offered by coach Randy Northrop are now some of the things she cherishes the most.

"The wins," she said. "That's the cherry on top."

The diminutive Hosterman, who also went to nationals with Rocky as a freshman and sophomore and is a three-time all-Frontier first team selection, is capable of unleashing 250-yard drives. However, that's not the eye-catching component of her game.

"The thing that jumps out right away is how straight she hits her driver," Northrop observed. "And she hits it far enough -- for her size, she hits it extremely far -- that she usually has short irons in.

"If you can hit your driver straight and long enough to where you have short irons in, as a woman playing at our level, you can be a very good player."

At the Frontier tournament, Hosterman made a difference by carding four pressure-packed rounds between 74 and 76 over the two days.

In reflecting on her Rocky career, Hosterman admits she has been a work in progress throughout.

"The best part I would say about me individually (this season) is that I've done better in dealing with those awkward shots, those situations that might be detrimental to my entire round," she said. "I think if anything my attitude, not really any specific part of my game, has changed tremendously."

Hosterman is quick to give Northrop a lot of credit for her transformation mentally.

"The only person Rachel has ever been hard on is herself," Northrop said. "She has been extremely hard on herself really for three years. This year I felt like she finally took a deep breath, realized that she's done a great job for us and just could go out and play.

"She has seven college wins, which is unbelievable."

Hosterman, who was taught the game by her father John, still takes a very analytical approach to most shots, studying all of the variables before swinging away.

"Before I try to create the shot, I'm picturing it, imagining it and getting a feel for it," she said.

Her teammates compliment her on that -- and some, including sophomore star Katy Peterson -- are starting to follow suit.

With three underclassmen, Rocky's return to the national scene this spring is somewhat surprising, but greatly appreciated by Hosterman.

"We're all so excited and motivated," she said. "Personally, I was devastated when we didn't make it last year.

"It came as a shock, but at the same time, as coach Northrop mentioned, it was something we needed to experience to really appreciate how far we had come and to appreciate the work and effort that goes into it. I was definitely motivated not to let it happen again."

After leaving Rocky, and spending a few months with her family in Arizona, Hosterman is considering joining another highly regarded team -- the United States military.

"I'd like to join the Air Force or the Navy," she said. "I've been doing the best I can in school to get into the officers' academy."

Hosterman said she would like to work in intelligence, possible putting her psychology minor to work.

"When she first talked to me about that a year ago, I got to thinking, what a great idea," Northrop said. "She would be one of those people that would fit in great in that atmosphere and thrive under pressure."

Up next, though, is the challenge of the national tournament, a fitting center-stage exit for Hosterman.

"I just feel so honored I was able to play and perform well for coach and Rocky's team," she said. 

"Rachel deserves to be an All-America (selection) this year with the way that she has played," Northrop said. "I hope that the powers to be see that."

 

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