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The Carletonian

Carleton Women’s Golf caps season with 7th place at nationals

<rleton Women’s Golf had a remarkable year, capping off their season with a  seventh-place finish at the Division III national tournament in Houston, Texas. This year, they totaled five first place finishes in nine matches, taking the trophy at the CSB Blazer Invite, Wartburg Fall Invite, the BU Battle at the Creek, the Royal Match, and the Carleton Spring Invitational. Pacing the Knights this season was MIAC Player of the Year, MIAC Rookie of the Year, all-region and second-team All-American Alyssa Akiyama ’20, all-MIAC and all-region honorees Ziyi Wang ’19 and Ayumi Sakamoto ’19, all-region recipient Geraldine Tellbuescher ’16, and Kelsey Sullivan ’20. The Knights were highly ranked nationally for most of the season and earned a spot to nationals for the second time in the past three years. Although the Knights did not place first in their conference tournament in the fall and did not receive an automatic bid to nationals, they received one of four at-large bids.

Playing at the NCAA Division III Championships was pressure–packed. The Knights are competing against extremely talented student-athletes from schools across the country. To play well, the Knights tried to focus on their golf, not the tournament they were competing in or the other student-athletes they were competing against. Playing at the National Tournament was “really an amazing and fun experience to be able to compete at a national tournament and to meet other players from colleges outside of our region,” Sakamoto said. “It was a bit nerve-wracking at first, but I just reminded myself that I need to approach the tournament no differently from any other round of golf.”

Akiyama agreed. “It was very exciting to be able to go to Nationals with my teammates. It was definitely overwhelming at first, but it was just another tournament, just like the MIAC Championship just in another scale.”

Carleton’s seventh place finish was impressive, but some believe they could have played better. Sakamoto claimed that although she shot her best round ever on the first day, she “felt that [she] had a few rough stretches that cost [her] a lot of shots.” Tellbuescher added, “It wasn’t my best performance, but conditions were tough some of the days and there were a few tricky holes on the back nine that I struggled with. If I had just had a few less strokes on those holes, it would have definitely helped me out.”

That being said, Akiyama, Sakamoto and Tellbuescher believed they each displayed solid performances. Akiyama summed up well the overall mindset of the team after the tournament’s conclusion: “The team did not have any amazing rounds but did not have any terrible rounds. So as a team, we were able to play to the best of our ability.”


This season, Head Coach Eric Sieger was named MIAC Women’s Golf Coach of the Year for the fourth time, having also received recognition in 2007-08, 2013-14, and 2014-15. When asked about how he helped the golfers this season, Sakamoto had glowing words.


“Coach Eric is an outstanding coach on and off the course and always makes sure that we have everything we need to maximize our full potential,” she said. “He emphasizes the process instead of the results, which has helped us to stay present and to not get ahead of ourselves in a high-pressure situation. He helps us in pinpointing and addressing our areas of weakness so that we can work on them during practice. Coach Eric always maintains a positive and supportive attitude and provides us with the tools and guidance that we need in order to succeed.”
Tellbuescher was especially appreciative of Sieger’s job this year since it was her lastyear on the team. “I think Eric did a great job preparing us and getting us to nationals,” she said. “We knew we had to play well at all of the tournaments this spring to get an at-large bid to nationals and he was very helpful by making sure that we didn’t put too much pressure on ourselves and just have fun playing golf, especially since it was my last season.”

Looking to next season, the Knights have much to look forward to. They return four of the five players that competed at Nationals, including all three of their all-region players. Sakamoto said, “I have very high hopes for next season. If we all keep working hard on our golf games, I know that we can build on the improvements that we made this year and continue to become the best golfers we can be. I think we have a lot of potential to shoot lower scores. I’m really excited for our upcoming seasons.”

Specifically, Akiyama hopes that next season the team will not have to be granted an at-large bid to Nationals. “Next season, I would like to be able to win MIACs with my teammates and have the Nationals bid before spring season,” she said. “If we could repeat or do better than this fall and spring season, we can have a good season next year.” Time will only tell whether this will happen, but Carleton Women’s Golf sure has the drive and talent to do so.

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