The Gustavus Adolphus women’s golf team will participate in the 2006 Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference women’s Golf Championships this weekend at Bunker Hills G.C. in Coon Rapids, Minn. The Gusties, who are in pursuit of their initial league crown, will be trying to knock off five-time defending champion St. Thomas.
The 2006 MIAC Women’s Golf Championship will have a different look and feel to it compared to year’s past. This season the MIAC Championship moves to a three-day, 54-hole tournament over Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Also new this season is that the MIAC team champion will earn an automatic bid to the 2007 NCAA Championship. 2006 will also mark the first time the MIAC Women’s Championship is played at Bunker Hills Golf Course in Coon Rapids. Bunker Hills is the long-time host of the MIAC Men’s Championship. The differences will not only be in the administration and location of the championship but there will also be numerous changes in the coaches and competitors. Three new coaches enter their first MIAC Championship; Patrick Michaud – Saint Benedict, Shawn Stimmel – Saint Mary’s, and Luke Benoit – St. Olaf. New faces will also fill the leader board as eight of the top ten finishers from last year’s championship have graduated leaving the door open for a new group of golfers. Saint Mary’s Caty Beel and St. Thomas’ Holly Noble are the only returning top ten finishers from 2005.
St. Thomas and Gustavus once again enter the MIAC Championship as the teams to beat. St. Thomas has won the previous five MIAC titles and will be led by juniors Holly Noble and Katie Potts and freshman Laura Heck. Gustavus enters the Championship with aspirations of knocking the Tommies off their throne; the Gusties will feature senior Breanne Staples (Windom, Minn.), junior Rachel Roberg (Rice Lake, Wis.), and sophomore Kimbra Kosak (Grand Rapids, Minn.). Saint Benedict and Saint Mary’s will also contend for a chance to knock St. Thomas out of the top spot. Saint Benedict has finished in the top three each of the last three years, but the Blazers enter 2006 with a new coach in Patrick Michaud and no juniors and seniors on their roster. Saint Mary’s also will have a new coach as Shawn Stimmel takes over a Cardinal team led by senior Caty Beel. Concordia will look to move up from their fifth place finish of a year ago, the Cobbers are led by sophomore standout Afton Pender. After a strong fall, Carleton may be ready to make a move up in the MIAC standings, the Knights are anchored by All-Region senior Kassie Wells. Much like Carleton, Macalester may contend for a spot in the upper level of the conference in 2006. The Scots feature a nice mix up solid upperclassmen and talented underclassmen. Under the direction of first-year coach Luke Benoit, St. Olaf will look to sophomore Kate Solheim to pace the Oles. Second-year head coach Laura Patrick will lead Augsburg again this season. Augsburg will be the host institution for the championship.