A young team with a new coach, the Minnesota women’s golf team continues to move up in national rankings — the Gophers are now 67th.
First-year Minnesota coach Melissa Arthur is pleased by the standing.
“My goal, I told the team this in the beginning of the year, I’d like to get into the top 65th of the nation by the end of the season. I thought that was attainable for us, especially for me because I didn’t really know who I had,” Arthur said. “Now that I know the abilities of this team, I think that goal was low for us.”
Minnesota has had surprises this season and junior Katie Bakken is a pleasant one.
At the end of the fall season, Bakken was ranked 464th amongst the nation’s collegiate golfers. The junior is now 260th.
Bakken has been the Gophers’ top finisher in all four spring tournaments, finishing 14th or better in each one. She also earned her first individual title this spring, placing first at the Peggy Kirk Bell Invitational on March 13-14.
“She did get new clubs, but I don’t know that’s necessarily what happened,” Arthur said. “She’s just very mentally focused.”
Freshman Karyn Stordahl was the Gophers’ fall front-runner. Stordahl averaged 77.8 in the fall, placing her in 17th for the best fall average in Gophers women’s golf history.
Since the fast start, Stordahl has slowed.
“She’s struggling with her confidence,” Arthur said. “She’s putting a lot of pressure for herself to perform.”
Not wanting to look past this season, Arthur is looking forward to next year. She’ll have one season behind her and the Gophers will have aged.
“I think the sky’s the limit for this team,” Arthur said. “We’re returning all of our top starters. I think they’re really excited.”
Some promising recruits will have also joined the veteran mix. Pasadena, Calif., native Karen Quintelier is one of those expected to contribute.
Arthur said Quintelier, a senior at La Salle High School, will bring good tournament experience to the team.
“She’s really good,” Arthur said. “She’s coming in 79th for junior rankings and was recruited by some top schools. I think she’ll step right in and be a traveler next season.”
The coming weekend is open for Minnesota, free of tournaments and practice. The Gophers were originally scheduled to compete this weekend, but had to erase the event from the calendar after having scheduled too many tournaments.
“It’s good. We need it,” Arthur said. “It’s tough this time of year with school. It’s really tough to go away every weekend.”
Sarah Mitchell covers golf and welcomes at [email protected]