Mac's top golfers shoot for MIAC title, national berth

By Will Kennedy

If you ever want to see a really bad duo, watch Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dennis Rodman fight international terrorists in the 1997 tragedy-thriller Double Team. However, if you’d rather watch a pair of legitimate stars, check out Jordan Matheson ’09 and Karla Leon ’10 as they contend for the MIAC women’s golf crown and a berth in the Division III national tournament. All-conference athletes in 2006, Leon and Matheson have played a big part in a women’s golf resurrection which has seen the program almost literally come back from the dead- in 2002 the team could not field a full squad of five. After a few years on the skids, the now eligible team stunned the league and surprised itself last year, posting a third-place finish at the MIAC championships, the best showing in the program’s history.

In the spring Leon, the MIAC freshman of the year, set the bar for individual success even higher, qualifying for DIII Nationals; she finished 13th in the nation and received All-American honors.

This year, Matheson and Leon think they can do better. “Nationals for Karla and I has been a goal since day one of preseason,” Matheson said. “I think we’re in a much stronger position then we were last year.”

Both women have excelled in tournaments this season, most recently at the 21-team Illinois Wesleyan Fall Classic, where Leon tied for seventh on rounds of 79 and 76 and Matheson shared ninth place with two rounds of 78 on the 6,060 yard par 72 course. With these credentials and a strong showing at conference, the pair would be in prime position to qualify for nationals when the spring tournaments roll around.

“Individually if they continue on the path they’re on, they both have a very good chance,” Head Coach Marha Nause said.

For the more immediate matter of the MIAC championship, Nause added, either Matheson or Leon-who finished second and fifth respectively at the big meet last year-can beat any of the league’s top golfers.

“It could be a dogfight for the individual championship,” she said.

While neither a national tournament berth nor an Individual MIAC title for Matheson or Leon is an unlikely prospect, the players’ final goal, that of contending as a team for a league title, is almost out of the question as St. Thomas and Gustavus both beat Mac by over 30 strokes last year. Then again, it’s not impossible.

“We’d have to play the rounds of our lives and they’d have to have bad days,” Matheson said. “But,” she added “our [team] scores are dropping and we have the potential to do a lot of good things.”

Matheson, Leon, and the team will get a chance to find out where they stand this weekend at the Mid-West Division III Classic in Hudson, Wisc. where a majority of MIAC teams are expected to attend.