NORTHFIELD, Minn.--Gina Kabasakalis (So./Alameda, Calif./College Prep) fired a final-round 79 and Grace Gilmore (Fy./Edina, Minn.) posted a career-best 81 as No. 18 Carleton placed four players inside the top 10, claiming the team title at its own College City Challenge event.
The Knights posted a final-round 323 and finished at 653, six shots ahead of No. 11 St. Olaf (659) and 11 ahead of No. 9 and first-round leader Gustavus Adolphus (664). Kelsey Moede (So./Lake Oswego, Ore.) ended at 159 and finished third, while Kabasakalis ended fifth at 162; Taylor Wells (So./Rochester, Minn./Century) finished sixth (163) and Gilmore placed 10th (169).
It marked Carleton's first team title in eight seasons, and comes in its final competition before the MIAC Championships in two weeks. The 323 score was a team home-course record and the fourth-lowest team score in school history. The 653 total was the lowest 36-hole home-course score and the third-lowest in school history. The Knights have recorded 660 team scores or less in the last three events after doing it only twice last year.
The Knights started the day one shot back of the Gusties and six clear of fellow tournament host, but a balanced team scoring effort allowed the Knights to match the Oles' final-round team score and top Gustavus by 12. It marked Carleton's first win over Gustavus, a perennial top-10 program.
"I was just so proud of the players this weekend and the way they executed and battled," Carleton head coach Eric Sieger said. "To see Grace put a round together like that made everyone on the team so happy, and Gina played really well from tee to green and was able to post a very good score on another day when the course played tough."
Both Moede and Wells had less than their "A" games, but still managed to post very good scores.
"I thought the way Kelsey and Taylor battled really showed the type of players they are and the maturity they have," Sieger said. "Neither of them hit it great, but they still figured out a way to get the ball in the hole."
St. Olaf, paced by medalist Molly Erickson's five-over par 149, finished second while the Gusties were third. Unranked St. Thomas, which has won the previous two events, finished fourth at 677. No. 21 Wartburg finished fifth at 686.
The win comes during a three-week stretch where the Knights were in contention each week. They led the Wartburg Invite two weeks ago before settling for fourth; last week they finished second by a mere shot to St. Thomas.
"I know the girls really wanted to close the deal today, and joked as we took our team photo before the round that we'd be taking another one with the trophy afterwards, so it's good to know they have that confidence in themselves and in each other," Sieger said. "Hopefully, we can have a productive week off from competition before we start preparing for the MIAC Championships."