St. Peter, Minn. – One year removed from a third place finish at the conference tournament in 2012, the Gustavus Adolphus women’s golf team will look to make a push for a conference title this weekend when it competes in the 2013 MIAC Championships at Bunker Hills Golf Course in Coon Rapids Minn. The three-day tournament will kick off Saturday, Oct. 5th and will conclude on Monday, Oct. 7th.
The Gusties enter Championship weekend coming off solid performances on back-to-back weekends. Gustavus finished tied for first with St. Thomas at the College City Challenge on Sept. 21-22. After shooting an opening round of 326 (+34), the Gusties battled back to card the lowest score of the day in the final round with a 319 (+27) for a weekend total of 645 (+61). Sam Falk (Jr., Glenwood, Minn.) led the way for the Gustie women with a first place finish of her own after shooting a masterful 152 (+6) on the weekend. Gustavus then followed up its first-place performance with a “tune-up” tournament at the Gustavus Fall Invitational where the Gusties shot a 668 (+88) for the weekend and finished first of three teams.
“It’s a very exciting weekend,” said Head Coach Scott Moe. “Two weeks ago at the Carleton tournament, our gals started to put together a good weekend. Sam played really well and led the way for us, earning medalist honors. We ended up tying for first with St. Thomas, and I think that gave us a lot of confidence coming into our conference weekend.”
Falk, an All-MIAC performer in each of her first two seasons, will look to lead the Gustavus lineup once again this weekend. In last season’s MIAC Championships, Sam finished seventh behind teammate Kayleigh Dittes ’13 with a 242 (+26). This season, the junior holds a stroke average of 80.1 this season, which ranks fourth in the conference, and has finished in the top 10 three times this fall. Joining Sam in the Gustavus lineup is 2012 All-MIAC performer Liz Strom (Jr., Fargo, N.D.). Strom finished 10th at last year’s MIAC Championships with a tournament total of 246 (+30). This season, Strom has played in four of the team’s five events, and holds a stroke average of 83.4.
Lauren Johnson (Jr., Plymouth, Minn.) will play next to Falk and Strom in the lineup. After amounting a stroke average of 86.5 last season, Johnson has shaved nearly five strokes off her average score this season to post a stroke average of 81.8. Johnson has also finished in the top 10 on three occasions this season. Junior Jordan Drenttel (Inver Grove Heights, Minn.) and first-year Mae Meierhenry (Sioux Falls, S.D.) will also compete this weekend.
“Well Sam is playing well right now, and Liz has had good success up at Bunker so she can put up some good numbers for us this weekend,” assessed Moe. “Also, Lauren has had a great fall for us. She has kind of been hiding in the wings a little bit, but she has put up some great scores. Bunker is a course that sets up really well for her, along with Jordy and Mae. I think they each have a good chance to be successful with how the course sets up as well.”
After getting off to a rocky start at the beginning of the season, the Gusties have been progressively improving throughout the year and have become more consistent just in time for the conference tournament. The Gusties began the year with a third place finish at the Georgianni Memorial Invitational before registering a fifth place finish at the Augustana Invitational and a third place mark at the D3 Classic. Gustavus then followed with a solid weekend at the College City Challenge on its way to a first place finish, something that Coach Moe found encouraging.
“We’ve started to show the consistency that we need to have lately,” mentioned Moe. “Having four players play well everyday this weekend is going to be key. They don’t have to play great, they just have to play well each day. If we can do that, I think we will be in really good shape.”
There is one change to this year’s MIAC Championships regarding how the top individuals are honored. Before, the top 10 including ties were named All-Conference. This season, those players will be named to the All-Championship Team Monday. They will also automatically earn All-Conference honors in addition to up to five at-large selections, which will be announced with the rest of the MIAC Golf Awards following the spring season.
The MIAC has an event page featuring all the links and information to follow the action throughout the tournament. The conference, with the help of its teams, will provide scoring updates online during each round and those links will be available Saturday. Following the conclusion of each round, the event page will feature results, recaps and multimedia coverage of the championships, as well as updated pairings and tee times for subsequent rounds.
Fans can also connect to the conference throughout the event on social media. The MIAC welcomes fans, coaches and student-athletes to share photos from the event on Facebook and Twitter, and to use the hashtag #MIACgolf on all championship-related tweets. The MIAC also produced a 2013 MIAC Golf Championships video to promote the event.
Saturday and Sunday’s 18-hole rounds will tee off at 11:28 a.m., with Monday’s final round beginning at 9 a.m. A short awards ceremony to honor the team champions and All-Championship Team (top 10 including ties) will follow. Admission is free and spectators are welcome. All spectators are encouraged to review the MIAC Golf Championships spectator rules prior to attending.