NORTHFIELD, Minn.––One of the best seasons in Carleton College women’s golf history ended one step short of the goal, as the NCAA Championships field was announced without including any Knights.
Sophomore Kelsey Moede (Lake Oswego, Ore.) was on the outside looking in when selections were announced, as she represented the best chance of earning a national tournament bid. Conference foe Doyle O’Brien of St. Thomas was picked as an individual, and was likely one of the final selections of the NCAA committee. Moede was likely just behind her in the pecking order.
“It was a tough decision to swallow, but we talk about all the time on focusing on what we can control, and the selection process is most decidedly outside of our control,” Carleton head coach Eric Sieger said. “We felt like Kelsey had done enough to warrant a selection when one considers the schedule we played and the performances she posted, but the committee didn’t agree.”
In fact, the NCAA committee did the Midwest region no favors, taking only the two automatic qualifiers in St. Olaf (MIAC) and Wartburg (IIAC) and O’Brien, despite the fact that the MIAC had placed four teams in the top 25 rankings all season. Gustavus Adolphus, which had moved inside the top 15 in the final Golfstat rankings, was passed over for an at-large bid as well.
“The whole spring was a difficult process for us,” Sieger acknowledged, as the Knights had two-time All-MIAC player Gina Kabasakalis decide to leave the program after spring break. “We felt like, after the fall we’d had, that we were in great position to get one of those at-large bids, but we weren’t able to overcome the challenges before us. I think we pressed a bit, and the lack of practice time certainly didn’t help in that area.”
The Knights, along with most of the upper Midwest teams, were able to practice only a handful of times and played in brutal conditions on courses that were in very rough shape after what many experts described as the worst spring in more than 50 years.
The season, however, still goes down as one of the best in Knights’ history. They finished a school-record second in the MIAC Championships, won their first major invite in eight seasons and had a trio of players––Moede, Kabasakalis and Taylor Wells (So./Rochester, Minn./Century) earn All-MIAC honors.
Moede’s season, in particular, is the best ever for a Knight. She’s the first player to average less than 80, posting a 79.9 stroke average. Wells posted an 81.3 stroke average, fourth-best in school history and giving her two of the top four single-season averages in school history. Wells now sits atop the career averages list at 81.17, while Moede is second at 81.94. Carleton’s 333.68 average is about one shot off of last year’s record-setting performance.
“It was really a very fulfilling, energizing season,” Sieger said. “I’m very proud of our players’ work ethic and commitment to the program and one another. We’re very excited to have four talented players join us next year and help us gun for that NCAA bid in 2013-14.”