The return trip to home always seems longer, especially when it's the last road trip of the season.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's golf team shuttled home Saturday night after tying for 19th place at the NCAA East Regional at the Auburn University Golf Course.
The Mocs needed to finish in eighth place or better to advance to the NCAA championship tournament.
So their season is over and players will scurry home to all corners of the globe -- just up the road from campus to Red Bank for Jordan Britt, to France in the case of Agathe Sauzon, to Australia for Emily McLennan and to Colombia for Isabella Loza.
"I think everybody is looking at flights now," Britt said via cell phone. "Nobody was planning on going home until after nationals."
But the end of the season has arrived. UTC shot a 47-over-par 911 to tie with Penn State, 34 strokes behind eighth-place Auburn.
"There were some teams that I thought we could have beat," coach Colette Murray said after the team stopped for dinner. "We just let a few shots get away."
Alabama, the defending national champion, won the tournament at 20 under followed by Tulane at 12 under. Tennessee missed advancing by three shots, but the Lady Vols' Erica Popson beat teammate Chessey Thomas and North Carolina's Jackie Chang in a playoff to advance as an individual. They were tied at 3 under after 54 holes.
The Mocs were led by Britt, who prepped at GPS and Signal Mountain, and shot 8-over 224 and tied for 51st. McLennan tied for 70th at 227 and Sauzon tied for 79th at 229. Loza shot 231 and teammate Porsche Campbell, who grew up in Vancouver, shot 247.
All five golfers -- as well as sophomore Mette Kryger -- are expected to return next season, which turns winning the Southern Conference tournament and playing in an NCAA regional into valuable experience for what will be an experienced team.
Only Britt had played in an NCAA regional before Thursday. That won't be the case next season.
"I think this was very valuable," Murray said. "I think they all realized the level we have to play at, and I think it opened their eyes a little bit.
"I have to remember that we have a bright future ahead of us."
Contact David Uchiyama at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamCTFP.
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...