That’s all that separated Carleton College from its first MIAC Championships title and an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships. And despite having the tournament medalist, shooting a sizzling final-round 316 and posting the third-lowest 54-hole total in conference tournament history, the 19th-ranked Knights fell just shy of capturing the conference crown, posting a team score of 952 to the University of St. Thomas’ 951.
Shannon Holden ‘17 provided the round of the season, firing a three-over par 75 to win the MIAC’s individual title by two shots at 13-over par 229. It’s the third-lowest total in conference tourney history and she is believed to be the first freshman to win the MIAC’s individual crown. Her final round was the third-lowest round ever by a Knight at the MIAC Championships, as she is the first Carleton golfer to ever win an MIAC individual title and the first female to win a conference crown.
She was backed by three other Knights inside the top 10, as Kelsey Moede ‘15 ended sixth at 23-over 239 after a final-round 80; Grace Gilmore ‘16 finished one shot back in seventh by posting an 81 on Monday; and Geraldine Tellbuescher ‘17 used a final-round 80 to move up four spots at 28-over par 244. All four players earned spots on the MIAC’s All-Championship team and automatically earn All-MIAC honors when the post-season awards are announced in the spring. It marked the fourth top-finish in five starts for Gilmore and Moede and the first of the season for Tellbuescher.
“It was an unbelievable weekend of golf with both teams playing at such a high-level,” Carleton head coach Eric Sieger said. “Our goal the whole weekend was to focus on what we could control, play with confidence and commitment. I thought we did that and performed so well, but obviously it stings to come up short by a single shot. It feels like losing a basketball game by about 0.01 of a point or something.”
The Knights entered Monday’s round one shot ahead of the 13th-ranked Tommies, and thanks in large part to Holden’s two birdies on the opening three holes, the Knights to a 10-shot lead as UST started poorly. UST, though, slowly chipped away at Carleton’s lead and narrowed it to a mere four shots with five holes remaining. They eventually caught the Knights, as tournament runner-up Erin Dingmann made a beautiful par save on the last to clinch the win.
“I felt going into the weekend if we had a player near the top of the leaderboard and our fourth player was inside or near the top 10, that would be an amazing performance,” Sieger said. “The ladies matched that, and while I’m always proud of their effort, the performances this weekend were just outstanding. It’s not often that in our sport you’re able to have your best performance in the most important tournament of the year, but it’s even rarer to see it happen in team golf, but we were able to do just that and I think it will serve us well moving forward.”
The 952 score is a new team 54-hole record by a whopping 25 shots, while Holden’s score is also a new team record, crushing the old mark by five shots.
The win gives UST the MIAC’s automatic bid to next spring’s NCAA Championships, and leaves the Knights left to battle for one of the two at-large bids to the national tournament left for teams that don’t win its conference’s automatic qualifier.
“We’ll have to gear up again in the spring and go out and post some great performances, but I think we proved to ourselves that we’re very capable of playing at a high level,” Sieger said.