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The Scarlet & Black

Women’s golf dominates Midwestern Conference Championship

Julia Echikson ’20, Vrishali Sinha ’19, Nina Kouchi ’22, Vidushi Sinha ’19 and Danielle Oberlander ’21, pictured after their win at the Championship.

On Oct. 7, the Pioneer women’s golf team received its sixth consecutive Midwest Conference Championship win and was ranked eighth by the Women’s Golf Coaches Association, its first ever top 10 national ranking in NCAA Division Three.

In addition to the team-wide success, Grinnell saw impressive individual success as three women placed as the top three finishers in the Midwest Conference Championship. Nina Kouchi ’22 and twins Vrishali and Vidushi Sinha ’19 were the top finishers this year, leading their team to success in the regular season and on their trip to the National Fall Preview Tournament that took place in Texas this year.

These awards are “a testament to the women’s hard work and their commitment,” said the team’s coach David Arseneault Jr. ’09. 

In Arseneault’s first year as head coach, he won the Coach of the Year Award, voted on by all the coaches in Midwest Conference. Arseneault had previously been the team’s assistant coach and is a lifelong player himself having grown up on the Grinnell College Golf Course. 

Traditionally coached as a more individual sport at the College, Arsenault shifted golf towards collaboration, creating incentives like a trip to Starbucks if the team scored at least 15 collective birdies (meaning a score of one stroke under par, or expected number of strokes to complete a hole). 

At the beginning of the season, the team showed promise to an extent that surprised everyone:

“When I took over … I thought we had a chance to be pretty good, but I did not realize we had a chance to be quite this good,” Arseneault said of the team’s outstanding success. 

Grinnell women’s golf was invited to participate in the tournament this year against other nationally-ranked teams, and they seemed to surpass even their own expectations by placing first at the tournament this fall. 

“We didn’t have many expectations going into tournament at all … I think all of us just wanted to get a feel for what it’s like to play with some of the top teams and play at a course that is hosting Nationals,” said Vidushi Sinha. The women described how even though they won, outcompeting some of the top Division Three teams in the country, they were not performing at their best. The goal of reaching their full potential has become a huge motivator going forward. 

Coach Arseneault did not win Coach of the Year for nothing: his coaching method was felt on both a team and individual level. “A large part [of our success] was with our coach. He gave everyone positive and constructive feedback after every single game … every player knew exactly what to work on [going into tournament],” said Vrishali Sinha. 

With so much success, the relaxed nature of the team may come as a surprise to many. While every shot is important in scoring, at the end of the day the team does not want to get into their heads too much.

“It all comes down to just doing the best you can, you have the team to help you,” Kouchi said.

Continuing with this attitude, the team is looking forward to their spring season and the prospect of Nationals. “[We will have to work on] keeping our momentum and confidence, but also not letting it get to our heads is really important,” Vidishu Sinha said.

Julia Echikson ’20, Vrishali Sinha ’19, Nina Kouchi ’22, Vidushi Sinha ’19 and Danielle Oberlander ’21, pictured after their win at the Championship.


Vidushi and Vrishali Sinha, both ’19, placed first and second at the Midwest Conference Championship.
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