MESA, Ariz. - Last season, NIACC's Courtney Tusler headed east to play in the national golf tournament.
This season, the former Osage standout will head west for her return trip to the NJCAA Division I national golf tournament, which is set for May 14-17 at the Longbow Golf Course.
Last season, Tusler placed 90th at the national tournament in Braselton, Ga. with a 92-93-94-96 - 375.
"Playing in Georgia las year has to help her mentally prepare for the rigors of playing 72 holes in extremely hot weather and the focus it's going to take to get the type of scores she's going to be happy with," said NIACC coach Chris Frenz, who has taken at least one golfer to the national tournament in each of his 12 seasons. "Last year, the course had a lot of elevation changes.
"This year, will be different in the fact that Longbow is pretty flat, yet somewhat tight, as it's a true desert course. The stage won't be too big for her this year. She knows what to expect and I believe she'll play well."
Tusler placed eighth in the individual medalist competition at the NJCAA Region XI tournament in late April at Otter Creek Golf Course to punch her return ticket to the national tournament.
Tusler is the first NIACC women's golfer to qualify in back-to-back national tournaments since Savannah Lentz qualified in 2015 and 2016.
Tusler recorded rounds of 88-83-90-85 - 346 to lead the Lady Trojans.
"Courtney is a pretty no non-sense player when she's on the course," Frenz said. "She never gets down on herself or lets self-doubt get in her way.
"Over the past couple year's she was the one that stayed late after practice to get some extra putting drills in and didn't want to be just 'good enough' She always has the desire to do better."
Frenz said Tusler's goal is to improve on last season's 90th place finish at the national tournament.
"With the women's national tournament combining Division I, II and III, it's really tough to crack the top 10-20," the coach said. "We would like to get in the top 50-75 in the country, which would be an outstanding achievement.
"There will be around 115 players in the tournament so getting in the top half would be pretty awesome considering the type of weather we've had to battle this spring."
Frenz said the course at nationals should set up well for Tusler.
"Normally, she hits it straight and it runs forever," Frenz said. "On that course, if you're a little left or right, the ball will slide into the desert and that's not a good position to be in to be able to score.
"She's worked hard on her short iron game. The greens are big so she'll need her A game putting, but her mental toughness is what makes her as good as she is."