COON RAPIDS, Minn.—Sunday’s second round at the 2011 MIAC Championships marked moving day for the field, and Carleton College rookies Taylor Wells (Rochester, Minn./Century) and Gina Kabasakalis (Alameda, Calif./College Prep) made the most of the moment.
Wells fired a three-over par 75, one off her own and Kabasakalis’ school record, and Kabasakalis threw out a slick four-over par 76 to lead the No. 25 Knights to a 332 and a spot inside the top four with one round to play.
The Knights sit at 666 after 36 holes, their lowest total in MIAC Championships play, and moved past St. Thomas into solo fourth in the team race. They head into the final round five clear of Concordia-Moorhead (671) and 11 ahead of the Tommies. The Knights trail St. Benedict by 11 shots entering the final round, and will be paired with the Blazers, tournament leaders and No. 19 St. Olaf (629) and No. 4 and four-time defending champion Gustavus Adolphus (642).
CSB’s Kathryn Hauff saw her lead decrease by one shot to three at 151, while Gustavus’ Sam Falk is solo second at 154. Wells and St. Olaf’s Vanessa Kleckner and Maxine Carlson are another shot back at 155, followed by Kabasakalis at 158. St. Benedict’s Grace Todora fired the first under-par round in MIAC Championships history, posting a one-under 71 to move from 29th to 7th place at 159.
Wells, meanwhile, rode a one-under par 35 on the back nine to move within four shots of the lead, hitting eight of the final nine greens in a round that could have been lower if birdie putts from inside 25 feet had gone down on No. 15, 17 and 18. Her 155, 36-hole total is one off Kabasakalis’ school record and is the lowest conference tournament 36-hole score in school history. Kabasaklis backed her with a solid round, giving Kabasakalis four sub-80 scores in her last five rounds. The Californian’s 36-hole total is the second-best conference tournament total in program history.
“Obviously, Gina and Taylor really carried us today,” Carleton head coach Eric Sieger said. “To see them step up when we really needed it was pretty amazing.”
Kelsey Moede (Fy./Lake Oswego, Ore.) faltered a bit after her opening 79, posting an 89 and finds herself at 168, seven shots out of the top 10.
“I think Kelsey was caught up in comparing today’s round to yesterday and had expectations that weren’t helpful, which is easy to do for a young player following a good round,” Sieger said. “She knows she needs to focus on one shot at a time and place her full attention on her intention for each shot, and I think she’ll do that tomorrow.”
Traci Johnson (Sr./Lakeville, Minn./North) added a 92 despite trying pretty much everything in the book. “Traci just hasn’t played as well as she would like, and we know she’s capable of some very solid golf,” Sieger said. “I don’t know if she’s suffering from the same expectations issue that plagued Kelsey did today, but we’re hopeful she can find it tomorrow for us.”
Monday’s third and final round has the Knights off at 10:20 a.m. The team champion earns the MIAC’s automatic bid to May’s NCAA Championships, while the top 10 individual finishers earn All-MIAC honors.