The St. Catherine University golf team has made quite a name for itself in its six years as a collegiate program. In just six short years, the team has already won three tournaments, produced three individual medalists at tournaments, and set over 15 school records in the process.
On Monday, the Wildcats added Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) Champions to their resume, as they won the MIAC Women’s Golf Championship by two strokes over Carleton College. For its performances, the St. Kate’s golf team has been named this week’s Wildcat Athletes of the Week.
The Wildcats were the top team throughout the entire three-day tournament, thanks to record-setting performances from their top-five golfers. On the first day, Taylor Krouse '18 (New Prague, Minn. / New Prague) shot a career-low score of 77 to guide St. Kate’s to the top spot on the team leaderboard with a first round score of 319.
On Sunday, Abby Conzemius '17 (Chanhassen, Minn. / Minnetonka) was both the top golfer for the Wildcats and the tournament field. The senior shot an even par 72 on the second day of the MIAC Championships, which was not only the top score for the team, but, at the time, was also the best score 18-hole score of the weekend by four shots. Conzemius also broke her own school record for lowest 18-hole, single round score by an individual, which she previously set last season.
As always in golf, the third and final day of the tournament proved to be the most exciting. Thanks to Conzemius’ strong performance on Sunday, St. Kate’s held a 10 stroke lead over Carleton College, who dropped 20 strokes from its first round score to move from fifth to second place. However, as Monday wore on, the Wildcats saw the Knights slowly chip away at their lead until it suddenly disappeared altogether.
Sydney Busker '19 (Detroit Lakes, Minn. / Detroit Lakes) proved to be the hero of Monday afternoon, hitting two huge putts to help St. Kate’s maintain and retake the lead. On the ninth hole, as Carleton was creeping closer, Busker hit a putt for eagle to put the Wildcats back up by five with nine holes to play. Still, the huge putt wasn’t enough, as the Knights took a two-stroke lead over St. Kate’s on the back nine of the course.
Busker’s second putt of the afternoon came on the final green of the course. After Carleton’s Ziyi Wang missed her putt for par on the 18th, Busker had the chance to give St. Kate’s the lead again if she could make a short putt for par. It wasn’t necessarily the easiest putt, with a sloping fast green, but Busker made it work. Her ball lipped the edge of the cup and fell in the hole, not only ensuring par for Busker, but a one-stroke lead for St. Kate’s.
Busker’s clutch putt would not have been possible without Krouse and Madi Roe '17 (Apple Valley, Minn. / Eastview), who gave the sophomore the chance to put her clutch gene on display. Roe hit a putt for par on the 18th green to keep the Wildcats within striking distance of the Knights, while Krouse shot even par on the back nine. After Busker’s putt, Carleton bogeyed elsewhere on the course on the course, and suddenly the Wildcats lead was back up to four strokes with two golfers remaining.
Kaitlyn Alvarez '18 (Eau Claire, Wis. / North), St. Kate’s No. 2 golfer, hit the back bunker on the 18th, but saved the hole with a two-putt bogey, putting the pressure back on Conzemius to seal the win. Conzemius did all that and more, hitting a shot put for bogey to seal the first MIAC Golf Championship in school history.
At the end of the day, all five Wildcat golfers finished in the top-25 of the individual standings, and Conzemius, Busker, and Alvarez all earned All-Conference honors with a third, seventh, and tenth place finish. Krouse finished just outside the top-10 in 12th while Roe finished in 25th.
In the process of winning the conference championship, the Wildcats set multiple individual and team scoring records, including lowest 54-hole team score in school history (949). The team also earned the MIAC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Women’s Golf Tournament, which will take place May 9-12 at Bay Oaks Country Club in Houston, Texas.
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