Men's and Women's golf best MIAC finish in years

By William Kennedy

In the midst of an administrative push for a Macalester athletic resurgence, the College’s men and women’s golf teams demonstrated that they may have a head start on the school’s other sports. At the MIAC championships the Mac women posted an all-time best third place finish. At the Bunker Hills in Coon Rapids course, the men tied for sixth place, the team’s best MIAC finish in over 20 years.For the women, a mix of youth and experience coupled with strong internal competition propelled the team to a remarkable finish. “We finally had a big enough team where players had to play well to qualify for conference,” head Coach Martha Nause said. “That really made everybody play better.” All-MIAC performers Jordan Matheson ’09 and Karla Leon ’10 finished near the top of the conference to lead the Scots. Matheson’s consistent rounds of 81, 82 and 82 tied her for second place overall, while Leon’s 83, 80 and 87 secured fifth place.

While underclassmen provided the Scots with another first for Mac—two finishers in the league’s top 10—a core of upperclassmen rounded out the team’s scoring. Grace Arnold ‘06, and Anna Gizzi ’06 scored in the low 280’s for the tournament and Kylie Thomson’s ’06 275 landed her a 26th place finish.

The Scots impressive season promises renewed life for a program with recent struggles. After finishing fourth, for the third time in the team’s history, in 2001, the fell to the bottom of the league, literally had to rebuild a team with no returning golfers after the 2003-2004 season. After fighting to a seventh place finish last year, the Scots 2006 performance caught many of guard.

Mac’s 1045 combined team scored placed them well ahead of nearest rival Carleton who recorded a 1058. St. Thomas easily won the tournament with a 975 combined score, while Gustavus scored 1011 to place second. “We’re only a couple of players away from getting to compete for a league championship,” Nause said. Future improvement in the conference, Nause added, would likely bring the team close to another first, an NCAA national berth.

Men’s golf did not improve as drastically in the MIAC standings as their female counterparts, but nevertheless recorded their best finish in over two decades. After placing seventh the past two seasons, the Scots battled St. Olaf to a tie for sixth in the league.

“We’ve been playing together for a long time,” Chris Olson ’06 said of the experienced squad. “We’ve had the same talent all three years, this year we just put it all together.”

Olson shot rounds of 78-80-86 to earn 18th place overall in the three day MIAC tournament. Ryan Peters’10, the lone underclassman among Mac’s five scorers and Captain Eric Kelsey ’07 finished within a single stroke to collect 24th and 26th place respectively. Ben Finkenbinder ’07 and Tony Pratt ’07 also scored for the Scots on the par-72 course. Mac’s combined team score of 958 placed them shots behind fifth place Concordia and edged seventh place Bethel by three strokes. St. John’s took the MIAC Championship with a combined team score of 877. The Scots will have some holes to fill in the off-season, as all but four golfers will graduate in 2007.

Both teams will take some time off before play resumes during spring semester, where Leon and Matheson will have an outside shot to qualify as individuals for nationals.