Women's Golf Team Headed to Nationals
Women's Golf Team Headed to Nationals
During a stretch when the weather couldn't possibly get any worse, the Ashford University women's golf team ultimately rose to the occasion and performed at its best.
In a race that saw the top four teams separated by a total of five strokes, the Saints finished with a 27-hole score of 565 to hold off Grand View University (567), St. Ambrose University (569) and Viterbo University (570), for its first Midwest Collegiate Conference crown and seal an automatic berth to the 31st edition of the NAIA National Championships in Greeneville, Tenn.
The two-day conference meet at Blue Top Ridge Golf Course was shortened from 36 holes to 27 due to driving rain, aggravating wind, scattered snow flurries and frigid temperatures, ranging throughout Eastern Iowa. The field completed its suspended first rounds from Friday and played an additional nine holes on Saturday.
Ashford led after the first 18 holes with a score of 376, eight strokes ahead of the field, but the Vikings, Queen Bees and V-Hawks, all closed in over the final nine holes and the team championship came right down to the final pairing.
And all the Saints could do was sit in the clubhouse and wait patiently for the final scorecards to be signed off and turned in.
"It was really exciting when we realized we had done it," AU Head Coach Josh Davis said. "We had a goal in mind going into the year that we could do it and win that conference championship. To see them see that goal fulfilled was real sweet and I'm very proud of what we've done this year."
"Saturday was the worst conditions to ever play golf," he added. "They (rules officials) made the right decision by pulling us off the course the first day and we just had to be mentally strong to get through it. It was a battle of wills in very tough conditions."
Junior Brittany Boon of Bloomington, Ill., and senior Jordan Davis of Delmar, both shot nine-hole scores of 44 to individually finish second and fourth, respectively, and earn the proud distinction of All-MCC performers.
"Brittany had a phenomenal round," Davis said. "Second place in the conference is a tremendous accomplishment for her."
The two upperclassmen standouts were backed with plenty of support through the rest of the rotation and Davis, after qualifying individually for the national meet as a sophomore, has some company after making the cut and experiencing the biggest stage of NAIA women's golf.
But Davis' group only completed two holes on Friday compared to the earlier groups who got through over half their round before play was halted. An unidentified member in her group also fell ill and as a member of that group, decisively completed the most play in Saturday's adverse weather.
Sophomore Megan Wagner of Preston, overcame an unfortunate bout of hypothermia in first-round play to record a top-10 finish (10th overall) after she carded a 51 in Saturday's remaining play. Freshman Courtney Gieseman of Coal Valley, Ill., had a two-day total of 149 to land a tie for 15th.
Freshman Haley Knutti of Chadwick, Ill., (99-53--152) and Felicia Scott of Waterloo, (106-54--160) finished in solo 23rd and 33rd, respectively.
The Saints will now compete against a field of fellow conference-winning programs and qualified individuals at the NAIA National Championships in Greeneville, Tenn., at Link Hills Country Club from May 17-20.
The Saints are already familiar with the terrain the Link Hills Golf Course features after competing at the NAIA Preview in the fall campaign (Oct. 25-26). The team's schedule is yet to be determined for their national trip in late May.
"We want to go down there and play our best and represent the conference and Ashford University well," Davis said. "The national tournament is a time to see where fit in with all the other schools. I don't know if we have an expectation in mind."
Grand View's Nicole McDonald claimed individual medalist honors with a six-stroke margin of victory, earning the right to represent the MCC at the NAIA National Championships.
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