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Golfers place second at Conference Championships

Grinnell golfers soldiered through tough cold conditions on Friday and Saturday of the Midwest Conference (MWC) Tournament, but when the sun came out on Sunday, the Pioneers shined with it.

The Grinnell Women’s Golf team concluded their season last Sunday with a second place finish out of seven teams at the Midwest Conference Championship held at Aldeen Golf Course in Rockford, Ill. Carroll College won the tournament by 26 strokes, and both Grinnell and Carroll defeated Illinois College which had won the tournament for last six years. The Pioneers ended their season with a 15th place finish out of 19 teams at the Millikin Fall Classic on Sept. 26-7 in Decatur, Ill.

The trio of first years—Molly Messin ’13, Natalie Klee ’13, and Elizabeth Burnett ’13—each shot individual tournament bests of 82, 87 and 86 on the final day. 

The team placed second last year, and Coach David Arsenault believed his team was capable of taking home the victory this year. 

“A second place conference finish is not what we had hoped for,” Arsenault wrote in an e-mail. “But Carroll was every bit as good as we were and the conference tournament was a toss up.”

Messin claimed second out of roughly 50 golfers overall, with a 266 after three rounds. Klee took seventh by shooting a 285, and Burnett placed ninth, with a 288. All three golfers earned all-league honors for their top 10 finishes. For the remainder of the Team Captain Ashlen Matzdorf ’11, finished 14th, Elaine Teo ’12 came in 25th and Evelyn Anderson ’12 landed in 29th place. 

Matzdorf has been incredibly impressed with the first years’ performance this season.

“There’s a different level of intensity to [collegiate golf],” Matzdorf said. “They have handled the transition very well.” 

Besides the intimidating athletic atmosphere, Klee notes another aspect that makes the jump challenging.

“The college courses are a lot harder than high school,” Klee said. 

Transitions aside, the Pioneers are a very young team. With every member returning next year, Coach Arsenault envisions a promising future for the women. Accordingly, he has set his goals higher for next season. 

“My goal for next year is to win the conference championship and get this group to nationals,” Arsenault wrote. 

To achieve this, Coach Arsenault is scheduling tournaments for the squad in the spring to give them more off-season training. 

“We are taking the golf program up a competitive notch,” Arsenault wrote. “In order to compete with the better teams in the Midwest, you must play in the spring.” 

Elaine Teo ’12 agrees with coach’s strategy for the spring.

“Last year, we didn’t have a spring schedule,” Teo said. “It will be more investment and effort, but it will be good for us.”

In addition to the extra training, Arsenault hopes to bring some more talent into the program through recruiting in order to overcome the consistently challenging MWC foes. 

“We need at least one more low 80s player to give ourselves a shot at the conference title next year, because I know Illinois College will be back and Carroll will only be getting better,” Arsenault wrote.

Although the conference tournament didn’t turn out quite as the Pioneers had hoped, the camaraderie of the team has come together.

“We sort of balance each other out,” Teo said. “It’s so hard to explain, but if you see us together it makes sense—I love my team.” 

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