NORTHFIELD, Minn.--Carleton College, ranked 19th in the latest NGCA/Golf World Division III Coaches poll, hosts the nine-team Carleton Invitational at Northfield Golf Club on Saturday and Sunday.
Three other ranked teams––No. 10 Gustavus Adolphus, No. 12 St. Olaf and No. 15 Wartburg--join the strong field in the regular-season finale as teams and individuals make their final auditions before the NCAA Championships selections on Monday afternoon.
The tournament marks the final home appearance for Carleton's two seniors, Traci Johnson (Lakeville, Minn./North) and Kate Johnson (Wauwatosa, Wis./Wauwatosa East).
"It's a bittersweet weekend," Carleton head coach Eric Sieger said. "We're so grateful to Traci and Kate for all they've given to the program, proud of all they've accomplished as students and athletes, and awed by the personal and athletic growth they've made over these past four years. We'll really miss their presence in our program."
As for the on-course competition, both St. Olaf and Wartburg have locked up bids to the NCAA Championships, which will be staged May 9-12 at Trine University's Zollner Golf Course in Angola, Ind. Both squads won their respective conference championship in the fall, securing an automatic bid to the national tournament. Gustavus, meanwhile, is battling for an at-large team bid, along with Carleton. As it stands now, only two at-large bids are available to teams from conferences with an automatic bid, although that number could grow come selection time on Monday afternoon.
Six individuals from schools not selected for a team bid will also participate in the NCAA Championships, and Carleton's Taylor Wells (Fy./Rochester, Minn./Century) and Gina Kabasakalis (Fy./Alameda, Calif./College Prep) are in the mix, as is St. Benedict senior Kathryn Hauff, a two-time individual NCAA Championships qualifier. Hauff is the tournament's defending champion, although Gustavus' Taylor Drenttel won two years ago with a tournament records of one-over par 73 in the final round and a nine-over par 153 total for 36 holes. She is coming off a victory at last weekend's Wartburg Invitational. Drenttel's Gusties are the tournament's two-time defending champions.
Carleton's line-up will feature Kabsakalis and Wells at the top two spots, with Traci Johnson at four and Sophia Roman (Fy./Portland, Ore./Catlin Gabel) at the five spot. The third spot will be held down by Kelsey Moede (Fy./Lake Oswego, Ore.), who has averaged 80.25 over four round this spring, an improvement of more than six shots from her fall average. She's coming off a runner-up finish at last weekend's Wartburg Invitational, as she fired a career-low six-over par 78 in the final round, setting a new 36-hole career best of 13-over par 157. She is the seventh Carleton player to break the 160-stroke barrier for 36 holes.