Mary Li and Parker Perry’s Player of the Week performances boost women’s golf to national rankings


Contributed by Ted Schultz

Mary Li `25 competes for the women’s golf team. Li was named the SLIAC player of the week for Sept. 21.

Cadence Chen, Staff Writer

Nearly two weeks before their last tournament of the fall 2022 season, the women’s golf team rose to number 22 in their Division III (D-III) national ranking. This follows their successes on Sept. 23, 2022 at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) D-III preview, regarded as one of the most prestigious D-III golf tournaments, at El Campeon Golf Course in Howey-in-the-Hills, Flor. They placed seventh out of 18 teams at the preview.  

Mary Li `25 tied for fifth out of 94 individual players. She is currently the top performer on the team with an average score of 76.8. Because of her performance at the preview, the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) named her Women’s Golf Player of the Week on Sept. 21.  

Coach David Arseneault, Jr. said he believes her accuracy is what allowed her to perform well this season. “While she might not be the longest hitter, her pinpoint accuracy doesn’t get her into trouble, and it leads to really consistent performances — especially on the more challenging courses where accuracy is key,” he said.

One of the team captains, Lauren Chen `24, said that one of her goals for this season was to better the team culture, and she feels that “this is the closest the team has ever been.” The team has made an effort to do activities outside of golf with one another, allowing them to get to know each other as individuals more deeply while also balancing having their own friends and lives.  

The team has four captains this year: Aubrie Torhorst `23, Zoe Robinson `23, Lexi Mueldener `23 and Chen. Last season, Nina Kouchi `22 was the team’s only captain, and her graduation “changed the look of the team,” said Arseneault. Kouchi was a two-time All-American and won three conferences.  

“She is definitely the most accomplished golfer in our program’s history. Last year, a lot of the pressure was on her, and she was always bound to perform well,” said Chen, “but this year, we’re all taking on that responsibility, where we all need to carry our weight a little more.”  

According to team member Parker Perry `24, who was named SLIAC’s Golfer of the Week on Sept. 28 for placing 11th out of 82 golfers at St. Kate’s Fall Invite, having more team captains allows for more voices in the team to be represented.  

“I have so many role models to look up to and I’ve got so many supportive people to rely on and to confide in,” said Perry. “They’re a wonderful bundle of resources that I can definitely use for some help and guidance.”  

While Arseneault said there tends to be a varying number of captains each year, he said he believes that all of the people on the team demonstrate leadership qualities. He said that he believes they all rely on one another for expertise.  

With four first-years joining the team and a total roster of 10 members, this is the biggest roster that the team has had in a while, according to the coach. In 2019-2022, there were five members on the team.   

The weather has been a challenge this season, especially for the first-years, according to Chen. Because all of the first-years are coming from international backgrounds, Chen said that the playing conditions may be different from what they are used to.  

The high humidity in Florida’s D-III preview was a contrast from the cooler St. Kate’s tournament in Minnesota’s twin cities and the rainfall during the Wartburg Fall Invite.  

Chen also said that she has “not been feeling 100% for the last couple of weeks.” She said that, like her, some team members are recovering from illnesses, and others have sustained injuries.   

 They officially began the season on Aug. 20, and they will close the season on Oct. 10 at the upcoming SLIAC Championship.  

This year, the team will compete at the championship from Oct.  9-10 at The Rail Golf Course in Sherman, Ill. They will be competing to win their tenth consecutive championship.  

The top five members will compete for the team award, and four of their scores will count. The rest of the team will compete for individual titles.  

In the time between the fall and spring season, which will begin indoors in March and transition outdoors depending on the weather, the team is allowed to take a break and practice on their own time.  

During spring break, the team tends to take a trip to somewhere with a warm climate. Last year, they went to Scottsdale, Ariz. and connected with a Grinnell alumnus who also participated in athletics during his time at the College.  

Though Arseneault is unsure of what the team’s exact plans will be for the spring season, they will be dependent on their performance at the SLIAC championship. During the spring season, he said that he finds that weather tends to be more unpredictable and not as nice compared to the fall season, making it “hard to plan.” 

While the team was unable to secure a bid to attend the NCAA D-III Championship last spring, they remain hopeful for the next season.  

Both Perry and Chen will be studying abroad during the spring season and therefore will be unable to compete.

Despite these potential hurdles, Chen agreed when Perry called the team “resilient.”  

“We are going out there, and we’re going to compete,” said Perry. “Rainstorm, sunshine, great weather. We’re going to be out there.”