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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Women’s Golf Finishes 6th at Nationals

<ced by a 77 from Taylor Wells (Sr./Rochester, Minn./Century) in the final round of her collegiate career, the Carleton College women’s golf team concluded the NCAA Division III Championships in a tie for sixth place after posting a 324 team score on Friday. Grace Gilmore (Jr./ Edina, Minn./Edina) was Carleton’s top performer for the week, finishing in a tie for 18th place in the 110-player field with a 33-over par total of 321 strokes.

In making their first NCAA Championships appearance as a team, the Knights posted team scores of 331, 323, 335, and 324 to total 1313 strokes (+161). That put Carleton into a tie with national No. 2 George Fox University for sixth place at the 21-team national tournament.. The only squads to best the Knights and Bruins this week were 2015 champion No. 5 Williams College (+111), No. 4 Wittenberg University (+129), No. 3 Washington (Mo.) University (+133), No. 1 University of Texas-Tyler (+137), and defending national champion Rhodes College (+148).

“I think we opened some eyes this week in showing that we can play right with the nation’s elite teams,” said Carleton head coach Eric Sieger. “People acted kind of surprised that we played well in Wednesday’s second round, so to back it up in today’s final round felt validating for us as team and a program.”

This is the eighth time in recorded Carleton history that any team has finished in the top-six at the NCAA Championships (SEE CHART BELOW). Carleton joined Gustavus Adolphus, which was the runner-up in 2011, as the only MIAC programs to post a top-six finish at NCAA Championships spanning the last 15 years.

Top Carleton Team Finishes at the NCAA Championships

1st place  —  Men’s Cross Country  —  1980
3rd place  —  Men’s Cross Country  —  1979
4th place  —  Men’s Cross Country  —  1975
4th place  —  Men’s Cross Country  —  1976
4th place  —  Men’s Cross Country  —  1981
6th place  —  Women’s Cross Country  —  1989
6th place  —  Women’s Swimming & Diving    —  2005
6th place
Women’s Golf


Carleton started Friday’s round playing the back nine and got off to a great start, sitting just 10-over par at the turn despite an early triple-bogey from Gilmore. As the day progressed, the winds picked up and the course played much tougher.

Wells’ (91-81-81-77 = 330, +42) superb final round included three birdies as she not only recorded the sixth-best score of the day—in the 110-player field—but she also posted the top round by any Knight throughout the week, surpassing a pair of 79s carded by Gilmore and another from Shannon Holden (So./Simi Valley, Calif./Royal).

Wells almost holed it on the par-3 15th hole before making the short putt for her first birdie of the day. On the treacherous 17th hole, she hit a beautiful 9-iron to about five feet and converted another birdie. After struggling a bit in the middle of her second (front) nine, she killed a drive on the par-5 seventh and hit a hybrid to about 10 feet. After narrowly missing the eagle attempt, Wells tapped in for her third birdie of the day.

She finished with two no-sweat pars, tapping in on the final hole for the second-lowest round ever recorded by a Carleton player at any NCAA Championship, behind only a 76 shot by Katrina Wood ’09 at the 2008 national tournament in Waverly, Iowa.

“Taylor just really came through in the clutch for us and played some of the best golf I’ve seen her play in her career the last two days,” said Sieger. “She worked very hard on her swing this off-season, and it paid off these last few days for her.”

Despite carding her highest score of a the tournament on Friday, Gilmore (79-79-80-83 = 321, +33) still broke Carleton’s NCAA Championships scoring record (in relation to par) as she finished 33-over par for the week, besting Wood’s total from 2008 by two strokes.

While a few tough holes cost Gilmore a chance at a top-10 finish, she played the final three holes in one-under par, including an incredibly clutch birdie on the final hole.

Knowing that Carleton needed to make up a stroke on George Fox and playing with the Bruins’ Sydney Maluenda, the newly-minted Division III PING Player of the Year, Gilmore stiffed her approach to five feet while Maluenda was in the fairway bunker. The Bruin sophomore came up with an answer, however, knocking her approach to 10 feet. Maluenda missed her put, and Gilmore rolled her birdie attempt into the cup, pulling the Knights into a tie with the nation’s second-ranked team.

“Grace was a stud this week,” Sieger said. “It’s really too bad that she didn’t earn a top-10 finish, but she certainly proved she’s one of the best players in the nation, and we will be in good hands next year having her as one of our two senior leaders.”

Geraldine Tellbuescher (So./Ashiya, Japan/Canadian Academy) matched her best round of the tournament with another 80 on Friday. While everyone else on the team lost at least one stroke at No. 13 on Friday, she picked up the early birdie and played the first nine at even-par after a three-putt bogey on No. 18. Tellbuescher (80-84-85-80=329, +41) struggled like she did all week on holes 3-6 but righted the ship and finished with two strong pars. “She was so in control, very reminiscent of her sub-70s round two weeks ago,” said Sieger. “It was inspiring to watch her play with that much confidence. We just need to figure out how to get her into that place more often.”

Holden (81-79-93-84=337, +49) was strong early, rebounding from her worst collegiate round on Thursday, then just had a few bad holes on her second nine that derailed any chance of getting into the 70s. “I thought Shannon learned a lot about herself and her game this week, and it will be helpful for her moving forward,” said Sieger. “Hopefully we can get back to nationals again, because I know she wants to play better in that setting next time.”

Kelsey Moede (Sr./Lake Oswego, Ore./Lake Oswego) was Carleton’s other golfer competing this week, and like Wells closed her career with her best round of the tournament (99-89-89-87=364, +76).

“It’s hard to imagine Carleton Women’s Golf without Kelsey and Taylor,” said Sieger. “They’ve been the rocks in our program, but they’ve left a legacy for the current and future players to follow that is strong.

“It’s kind of stunning that we’ve been able to build this program and get to this level, but it’s a real testament to the players, current and past. Our kids have always worked hard, kept things in perspective, and supported one another. This was a magical season full of wonderful memories and experiences.”

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