This spring athletic season marked an unprecedented one at Carleton College. Due to COVID-19 restrictions there were no fans in the stands, and teams did not start practicing until a weeklong campus-wide quarantine was completed during the first week of the academic term in early April. Masks were required to be worn by all athletes, which will hopefully be something we look back on with fascination rather than familiarity many years from now.
Nevertheless, Carleton’s athletic teams flourished this spring, highlighted by Women’s Golf’s third place finish in the MIAC Women’s Golf Championships, Men’s Track and Field’s third place finish in the MIAC Men’s Track and Field Championships, and the Men’s Tennis team’s runner up finish in the MIAC Men’s Tennis Playoff. Meanwhile, the best may still be yet to come, as a plethora of individual athletes are headed off to compete at Division III Nationals later this month.
Read on for a summary of how each varsity athletics team fared this spring:
The Women’s Golf team finished their season strong earlier this month with a third place finish at the MIAC Championships. Led by Kristin Miyagi, Alexis Chan and Alyssa Soma, who scored 1st, 10th and 13th respectively in the individual tally, the Knights fell behind only Saint Catherine’s (1st place) and Gustavus Adolphus (2nd place) in the team competition.
For the eighth consecutive year, a Carleton women’s golfer finished first in the individual portion of the MIAC Women’s Golf Championships. Junior Kristen Miyagi’s impressive score of 220 (4 above par) not only solidified her 1st place finish, but was also low enough to tie Carleton’s very own Alyssa Akiyama (Class of 2020) for the tournament’s all-time 54-hole scoring record. Senior Alexis Chan, who finished 10th, tallied a score of 236 (20 above par), while Alyssa Soma, a first-year, finished a shot behind Chan at 237. As a result of their high-level performances in the tournament and throughout the season itself, Miyagi, Soma and Chan each earned spots on the All-MIAC team.
The Men’s Golf team, meanwhile, wrapped up their season with a seventh place finish in the MIAC Men’s Golf Championships. Led by sophomore Anderson Murphy, who finished 17th in the individual tally, the Knights finished with a total of 927 strokes, marking the team’s best score at the conference tournament since 2006-7, when the MIAC Championships switched to its current 54-hole format.
Murphy tallied a total of 223 strokes over the duration of 54 holes, placing him at seven shots above par for the tournament. Sophomore James Berger, meanwhile, shot a 230 (14 above par), while senior Peter Gullickson finished two shots behind him at 232 (16 above). Carleton managed to stay ahead of Macalester and Augsburg but ultimately finished behind St. John’s (850 strokes), St. Thomas (892 strokes), Concordia (873 strokes), Gustavus Adolphus, Bethel and St. Olaf, who finished in that order. As for conference awards, Murphy received All-MIAC Honorable Mention, while Gullickson picked up a spot on the 15th Annual All-MIAC Men’s Golf Sportsmanship Team.
After finishing second in the MIAC with a conference record of 7-1, the Men’s Tennis team defeated St. Thomas six matches to one in the MIAC Championship Semifinals before falling to first-place regular season finisher Gustavus Adolphus five matches to one in the Conference Final.
The season is not yet over, however, for Seniors Leo Vithoontien and Xander Zuczek, who were selected by the NCAA National Tennis Committee as among the 16 top doubles duos who will compete in the 2021 Division III Men’s Tennis Championships in Chattanooga, Tennessee between May 28 and May 30. Vithoontien and Zuczek won Carleton’s sole match in the MIAC Final by a tally of 8-4 against Gustavus’s number one doubles duo Nick Aney and Alex Budde, who are responsible for Vithoontien and Zuczek’s only two losses this season. Aney and Budde qualified for the National Tournament as well, opening the possibility for a potential rematch down the stretch.
Vithoontien, who was recognized as the MIAC’s 2021 Arthur Ashe Award Recipient for outstanding sportsmanship and exemplary athletic, academic and humanitarian accomplishments, is also slated to compete in the NCAA Singles Championships in Chattanooga. As the third-ranked player in the Central Region, Vithoontien (who went 8-0 this season) will compete among Division III’s 32 best singles players on the national stage for the third time in his Carleon career.
First-year standout Yuv Kataria, who went 8-1 in singles and 9-2 in doubles while playing alongside four different partners, joins Vithoontien as the only two Knights this season to earn All-MIAC honors in both singles and doubles. Meanwhile, junior Xander Roti, who went 6-3 on the season, earned All-MIAC honors in singles, while the tandem of first-year Aniketh Vipparla and sophomore Aswath Viswanathan (7-2) earned All-MIAC honors in doubles.
After missing the MIAC playoffs by a single game, the Carleton Softball team ended the season on a high note with a 9-1 clobbering of Saint Mary’s in game two of a doubleheader on Senior Day at Eli Hansen Field. The Knights, who went 11-5 overall and 8-14 against the conference this spring, were led at the plate by junior Alexis Walters, senior Maris Daleo and junior Trina Eichel, who boasted batting averages of .415, .413 and .370, respectively, for the season. Standout first-year Ally Norton, meanwhile, led the Knights on the mound, producing a 5-1 record with a team-best 2.18 ERA this spring.
Daleo finished the last stretch of her Carleton softball career particularly strong, garnering a hit in 15 of her last 25 at-bats in a Knights uniform, along with four runs batted in, four runs scored, and four stolen bases. In her two final games against Saint Mary’s, Daleo went 7-8, a feat which solidified her selection as MIAC Softball Athlete of the Week for May 3-9.
The Carleton Baseball team made some noise in the MIAC Playoffs Qualifier Round Saturday by defeating the 24th-nationally-ranked Gustavus Adolphus club in game two of a three game series.
After falling to the Gusties 8-3 in game one on Friday, the Knights were propelled to a victory in game two by a stellar career-capping performance on the mound from senior Blake Anderson. Anderson held the Gusties, who finished second in the MIAC regular season, to no runs scored throughout the first seven innings of game two, while the Knights, led at the plate by runs batted in from juniors James Sassi, Sam Schur and Jacob Smith, out-hit Gustavus 13-7.
The Knights faced a win-or-go-home scenario in game three, where they had a chance to pull a monumental upset against a Gusties club which had accumulated 19 more wins than the Knights in the regular season. Unfortunately, the Gusties came alive with their backs against the wall, propelled to a 6-2 victory by their slugger Bryce Novak, who went 4-5 at the plate with three runs batted in the series finale. Prior to game three, the Knights held Novak to an impressive one hit in nine at bats for the series.
Senior Travis Brown earned All-MIAC honors after batting .354 with a .415 on-base percentage in 28 games this spring. A Center Fielder and a Pitcher, Brown led the team with eight stolen bases and was second on the team in hitting, runs scored (16), total bases (41) and runs batted in (13). In six appearances on the mound and a team-high 15.0 innings pitched, Brown posted a 4.55 ERA and a 2.7 strikeout to walk ratio. Brown has now obtained All-MIAC honors in both football and baseball.
Men’s Track and Field
Carleton’s Men’s Track and Field team had an outstanding outdoor season in their first action since the COVID-19 pandemic prematurely ended the 2020 indoor season. The Knights were led by Matt Wilkinson, who put together a pair of dominating performances in the steeple chase and 5000m run. Wilkinson recorded the third-fastest time in D3 history with a mark of 8:44—a time which would’ve qualified for the last US Olympic Trials. He also notched the fastest time in D3 this year in the 5k.
Wilkinson was backed up by incredible depth, especially in distance and field events, the foremost examples being long-distance Lucas Mueller and all-around stud Mr. Ian Mortensen. At the MIAC Championships last week, Mortensen easily won the Javelin with a toss of 56.5 meters, which places him 3rd all-time on the Carleton leaderboard. Mueller dominated the 10k in a Herculean effort that broke his own conference meet record with a time of 29:46. Mueller will most likely join Wilkinson at the Division III National Championships in Greensboro, N.C. (May 28-30).
The Knights were further helped by a slew of distance runners as they narrowly secured a third-place-finish at the MIAC Championships. The Knights continued their historical dominance in the steeplechase as Wilkinson, Ben Santos and Henry Bowman got out their brooms and swept the event. We’ll look to see if they can carry that momentum into the upcoming Colt 45k. Adam Nakasaka also notched a point for the Knights in the 5k with his signature monastic vigor, and Jeremy Fong and Bridger Rives went to work in the mid-distance events, with Rives finishing in 6th in the 400 and Fong finishing 5th in the 800. Even with Wilkinson and Mueller graduating, the men’s side looks forward to the coming indoor and outdoor seasons.
Women’s Track and Field
The Women’s Track and Field Team was also led by a duo of distance standouts. Amanda Mosborg and Clara Mayfield both had outstanding performances at the MIAC Championships. Mayfield coasted to a victory in the 10k with a time of 35:33 that was a facility record as well as a nationals qualifying time. Mosborg gave a tough-as-nails performance in the 5k, finishing in 2nd with a time of 17:38. Both Mayfield and Mosborg will likely travel to Greensboro for the Division III National Championships which will take place between May 28 and May 30.
Gabrielle ‘G-Easy’ Evans vaulted 3.43 meters in a high-flying performance that notched a school record, and Sydney Marsh continued her breakout season with 3,951 points in the Heptathlon, good for runner-up in the event. The Carl’s 4x800m relay of Sadie Ray Smith, Amy Kropp, Ellie Zimmerman and Natalie Marsh also gave an excellent performance, finishing in a time of 9:48, good for 6th place.
Mid-distance on down, Ineke Cordova posted a blistering 1:00.36 to finish seventh overall, while Alice Cutter qualified for the finals of the 800m and ran a 2:25—just out of scoring range in a stacked field. Mary Blanchard had a breakout showing, grabbing a personal best time in the prelims and then finishing 8th in finals, just two spots shy of scoring. In the short stuff, the relay of Ineke Cordova, Riley Roberts, Maggy Osha and Eva Airoldi ran a blistering 50.78 to take eighth place in the 4x100m relay. As a team, the Knights finished 10th, a performance they’ll look to build upon in next year’s indoor and outdoor seasons.