Wildcats’ Cusumano glad to have chance to defend state championship
By: Warren Mayes
Westminster Christian Academy senior Brooke Cusumano is ready for her last hurrah as Wildcat golfer.
Westminster, the defending state champions, begins the two-day Class 1 state tourney Monday (Oct. 15) at Meadow Lake Acres Country Club near Jefferson City. Cusumano is the defending state champion and is fresh off earning medalist honors in the Sectional 1 tournament with an even par 73.
She is looking forward to teeing it up and seeing what happens.
“It’s unbelievable that it was a year ago I won state,” Cusumano said. “Time goes by pretty fast. What I remember is being down on the front side and I tried to make it up on the back nine.”
Cusumano recalled she didn’t think she got it done but her father, Frank, told her otherwise.
“My dad came up to me and told me that I won it,” Cusumano said. “It ranked pretty high in my top 10 moments of our lives. He came up and told me and gave me a hug. I didn’t almost believe him. I didn’t know I was in the running to win it.”
Wildcats coach Steve Bradley said he was not surprised.
“Brooke is always on a mission to play her best,” Bradley said.
Cusumano has had a solid senior season. She enters the state tournament with some momentum by winning the sectional at Tanglewood Golf club.
“Brooke has been a stellar part of our program for four years. She has saved her best golf for her senior year,” Bradley said. “As soon as basketball ended last winter, she started in on her quest for a second straight golf title. She played AGJA events this summer and that mixed with Gateway PGA events and the two day tours has really polished her game.
“Brooke is one of the girls on our team with a chipping area and practice green in her yard.”
Cusumano believes in hard work. She strives to improve her game in all areas. She believes it has paid off with this season.
“Winning sectional was big highlight for me. It was awesome,” Cusumano said. “I was very happy to win but also that the team won and we all get to go to state. I think the sectional win gives me a lot of momentum and a little confidence boost going into state.”
She has been a team captain for the Wildcats. In addition to her own game, she enjoys helping the other girls, too.
“Brooke is a great captain and team leader,” Bradley said. “She obviously plays great golf but she also spends time with our young players and has helped them feel comfortable and welcome and a big part of our team.”
Cusumano was honored in a senior event after the district tournament.
“There’s a flower ceremony for all the seniors. I was like ‘Oh, my goodness, I am a senior.’ I feel like I’m starting my freshmen year all over,” Cusumano said. “It’s gone by so fast. I remember all the years before and the seniors getting the flowers and now it was my turn. That was very cool.”
Bradley said he is happy for Cusumano. She has been a good athlete for the program in her career.
“Brooke is a very coachable young lady. This is what makes her so good,” Bradley said. “She listens well and puts into practice the idea or fix that her coaches suggest. She is such a good athlete that making a change in her mechanics actually comes fairly easy for her.
“I would say she has a pretty complete game but where she really shines is in the short game. She is deadly with a wedge in her hand. She also has a great ability to look ahead at her next shot and let go of a poor shot she may have just played.”
Now, it’s time to end but not before the state tournament. Cusumano said she is not nervous.
“I feel God has helped me accomplish my goals. I’ll be trying to do my best Monday and Tuesday,” Cusumano said. “My season doesn’t end at state. I have college and other things. It’s just an end here.”
Can she repeat? She acknowledged it’s not at the top of her list.
“I honestly haven’t really thought about it. Jordan (Wolf) is very good,” Cusumano said about her junior teammate. “She’s a great player. She could win state, too.
“I love the freshmen and sophomores on our team. I’m so glad we’re going as a team to state. Coach Bradley is a lot of fun. He’s very nice and would never make us feel bad about ourselves. He’s the best.”
Bradley admitted he will miss having her on the team.
“She is very outgoing and friendly. People gravitate to her,” Bradley said. “But during a match she can become very focused and wear her game face. It’s almost amazing the difference between the Brooke in the team van to the Brooke on the first tee box.
“Brooke will be irreplaceable in the future. She holds many team records and her name is on the gym wall as a state champion. She will be sorely missed next year when we start practice in August.”
Cusumano will continue her golfing career. She will play at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
Bradley said he sees her succeeding with the Salukis.
“I think she will make friends quickly and I also think she will contribute to her team soon upon her arrival on the campus,” Bradley said. “She is a winner and a champion and that gets into your blood.”
Cusumano said she is excited about going to SIUC.
“I really liked the school,” Cusumano said. “I really felt like they wanted me on the team. It’s close and a perfect distance from my house. I can come home when I need to. The school is great.”