Gautier finds her way

By Rhema Rhea

Freshman Lena Gautier joined women’s golf during the second half of the season, and despite the late start, she hasn’t skipped a beat.

A native of La Celle Saint-Cloud, France, the transition from high school to college and to a new country may be tough on Gautier emotionally, but physically on the course she has put up some low scores.

“It’s hard for any student-athlete to come in mid-semester,” said head coach Kim Kester. “You’re almost a semester behind the rest of your teammates with the bonding and all that, but the girls have been unbelievable with welcoming every single person into the program. They took her under [their] wing, and she adjusted pretty well.”

Another plus for Gautier was at the same time she made the move to NIU, so did men’s golfer Raphael Denais, who is from Saint-Aventin, France. Kester said Gautier and Denais have helped each other on a few occasions during the process of coming to the U.S. and becoming college golfers.

“There are so many things going on that you’re not used to coming over,” Kester said. “Overall for her, she did an outstanding job transitioning into the program, and it helped that there was a men’s player that came the same time with her. So, they kind of went through the process together, and they could lean on each other when one’s confused and the other one knows what’s going on, and they could feed off each other on the good and the bad.”

On the course, the freshman not only leads NIU with her average per round of 78.23, but also stacks up well against the MAC.

Out of the 57 conference golfers who have played 10 rounds or more, Gautier’s average score is ranked 24th. Her average is the fourth-lowest of the freshmen in the MAC.

Gautier said the transition has been smooth despite joining the team midway through the season.

“The transition was easy because of how the schedule was,” Gautier said. “I was able to get some practice in before it, so it wasn’t too difficult to pick up a good rhythm.”

Kester said Gautier has been solid in many parts of her game this season.

“She’s very consistent, and when she gets in a trouble situation she knows how to play out of it,” Kester said. “Her ball striking looks great, but her game is good across the board. The one thing we’ve been working on lately is her [putting], [which] seems to have let her down a little bit, so that’s been our main focus over the last few weeks. Other than that, it’s been very consistent ball striking, which is what you need.”

With MAC Championships April 25-27 at The Hawthorns Golf Club in Fishers, Ind., Gautier is hoping her good play continues.

“I think that we have our chance if we all play well,” Gautier said. “But yeah, I think if we all play our best we can do something good. We are just going to go there and do the best that we can.”