Golf season finishes with ups and downs at MIACs

By Nathan Coppersmith

Last weekend both men’s and women’s golf wrapped up memorable seasons at the MIAC tournament held at Bunker Hills Golf Course in Coon Rapids, Minn. The women finished an impressive fourth out of ten teams with 1,038 strokes, three slots above last year’s finish and just ten strokes behind third place Carleton. Two players, Jordan Matheson ’09 and Karla Leon ’10, tied for ninth out of fifty golfers and earned All-MIAC honors for their top ten finishes, Matheson for the third time and Leon for the second. Ellen Bubak ’10 had her best-ever finish at Macalester with 20th place and Ali Fuhrman ’10 finished a season high 27th.

The men ended a disappointing weekend in eighth place out of ten teams, putting up 956 strokes, five behind sixth-place Concordia. Nick Santrach ’11 placed 19th, captain Matt Arck ’09 25th, Ben Langworthy ’11 26th, and Ryan Peters ’10 28th.

The women were very pleased with their finishes, but both Leon and Matheson had one bad round, which impacted the individual and team final scorecards.

“We had a very strong and fun season as a team . Last season’s MIAC tournament was kind of a joke. We came into this year’s tournament expecting no less than fourth . I wasn’t expecting ninth place at all,” Leon of the women’s team. “I only found out a few minutes before the award ceremony. I started well, but on the second day had the worst score of the season. After some good conversations with friends, I pulled it together and played really well on the third day. It all worked out.”

“I think it was a good fall season, arguably one of the best we have ever had. We were more consistent, many of the girls had scoring breakthroughs, and all of this was against not just MIAC competition, but some of the best teams in Division III [No. 2 Gustavus and No. 7 St. Thomas] . I think we were pleased with fourth place. Third would have been nice, but we had the most consistent tournament we have ever had and I am extremely proud of that . We played well, fought hard and that’s where we have every right and expectation to be. The improvement was mental more than anything. We had a desire to prove ourselves that I don’t think existed last year. For me, personally, this is my last year and I wanted to end conference on a high note, and we did that. More than anything, I am so proud of us as a team, this was a total team effort.

“Overall, I am happy to have finished all-conference again. After a rough first round I fought back for the top ten finish, and it was gratifying to be able to share my individual accomplishment with my amazing team, guys and girls,” Matheson said.

“I’m happy. I thought the highest we could finish was third unless we had some miracle rounds,” said Martha Nause, head coach of the women’s team . I was disappointed for both Jordan and Karla to each have their one bad round.”

The men had regrets about the tournament and the season, but at the same time have a very positive and hopeful outlook for the spring season.

“My scores weren’t as low as I expected, but my game is close to where I want it to be,” Santrach said. “I think the course played a lot more difficult than it usually does, especially since the greens were firm on the first day. The first day killed us. We could have finished a lot higher than we did.

“I wasted most of my strokes around the greens and on the greens,” Langworthy said. “Four of our top five [players] are returning for next year, so I’m pretty hopeful we can improve on our finish.

“I wouldn’t call it a great tournament, but I can’t be displeased. I struggled mightily in the weeks leading up to conference, but as captain and the lone senior on the team I knew that I had to put in three solid rounds to back up the other guys,” Arck said.

“Sunday night I had a conversation with Tom Kleczewski [an ’06 grad and standout keeper for Mac] about last games and he told me to do something memorable. I kept that in mind Monday as I shot my lowest side ever, a two-under 34 on the front nine.

“As a team we put up three respectable scores, but we never took it low like we needed to. We have four guys (myself excluded) for whom All-Conference honors would not have been out of the question, so in that sense I think each one was disappointed to a degree.

“I think it was a success overall. From starting the season with a win over Division II Concordia, to the great individual performances throughout the fall, we did some really good things.

“One of the plusses of having such a young team these past two years is that these guys have gotten a lot of tournament experience. I’m excited to see what the team does next year. They could be Macalester’s best team in 50 years, and will have the opportunity to really turn heads in the conference,” Arck said.

“In general I think it was a good weekend,” Nause said. “Looking at the scorecards, there were some nice rounds and the possibility of some great rounds, but at the end of the day that just doesn’t get it done in the conference.”

Nause had encouraging words for both the men’s and women’s teams about the weekend and the spring season.

“I think it was a really good season, we’ve had almost half our players shoot their career low, at least once if not twice, by a significant margin,” she said. “Both teams played well this season. I think there is room for a lot of improvement and a lot of players are on the verge of breaking through to the next level.”

Sadly for the team, this was Leon’s last tournament with the seniors, as she will be heading to Sao Paulo, Brazil, for study abroad in the spring. She does not expect to be able to play much golf there, because in Brazil, golf is considered an elitist sport and you must belong to a country club to play.

“We all hugged at the end. I almost cried,” Leon said of the end of the tournament.