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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
The Observer

SMC golf takes narrow lead in MIAA Tournament

On Tuesday, the Saint Mary’s College golf team competed in the first round of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association NCAA Automatic Qualifier tournament, and the race is very much too close to call.

The Belles hosted the tournament’s first round at the Elbel Park Golf Course, a local South Bend golf course with gorgeous wetlands and fairways. The idyllic setting was the site of incredibly fierce competition as four of the best MIAA teams battled for the conference’s lone automatic bid to the NCAA Division III national tournament.

The four teams to make the qualifier were the Belles of Saint Mary’s College, the Adrian College Bulldogs (who won the fall season), the Alma College Scots and the Hope College Flying Dutchmen.

The Belles made the most of their home course advantage. Sophomore Katelyn Tokarz shot a 74 (+2), earning the best score for her team and in the overall field.

Hope College had the second and third-best individual outings at 75 and 76, while Adrian had two players in a tie for fourth at 77 each.

The next-best Belle was freshman Julia Lizak, who shot a 78. Senior Katherine Hopkins was just one stroke behind at 79.

Two strokes back and in a five-way tie for ninth was senior Isa Patacsil. Senior Erin Bennett rounded out the team score with an 86, which put her in a tie for 17th. Bennett wound up tying with fellow senior Nani Patacsil, who played as an individual.

In total, the Belles finished with a 312, giving them a one-stroke lead over Adrian College. Both Saint Mary’s and Adrian have a slight cushion over third-place Hope College, which finished with a 318. The Scots of Alma College finished in a distant fourth with a team score of 346.

The Scots struggled mightily in the first round and were the only team not to have a player finish with a score of 80 or lower. Their top scorers both finished with an 81, tying for ninth. The Scots also had the worst finish, with their lowest player finishing just three strokes shy of 100 at 97.

With the first leg of the qualifier in the books, Saint Mary’s will get a brief rest before taking a two-and-a-half-hour bus ride north to Michigan on Friday. There, they will play two 18-hole rounds in two days at the Tecumseh Golf Club.

Unlike the first round, the final two rounds will be hosted by Adrian College. The Bulldogs also hosted the second round of the MIAA Jamboree in September of 2022.

Then, in a field of nine total teams, the Belles placed second, scoring 330. The only team to outperform them? Adrian College, which totaled 316 and had four top-10 best performers.

The second round of the qualifier begins at 1 p.m. on Friday. The third round starts at 11 a.m. the following day.