Playoff hopes die for Gophers women’s golf team

Ryan Schuster

The Gophers women’s golf team’s worst fears were realized this weekend as the team was eliminated from postseason competition in its last regular season meet of the year.
Minnesota finished sixth out of eight schools at the Iowa Invitational in Iowa City, Iowa, on Saturday and Sunday, making a bid to the NCAA East Regionals all but impossible. Ohio State finished first with a three-round total of 907 points, followed by Indiana in second with 926 and Purdue in third with 938. Minnesota had 948 points.
The Gophers came into the competition ranked fourth in the Midwest Region behind Big Ten schools Ohio State, Indiana and Big 12 foe Missouri. Purdue was rated fifth. The top three teams in each of the five regions will be picked by an NCAA selection committee on April 28 to compete at the NCAA regionals.
Even though the Gophers had low expectations that they would score high enough to even be considered as an NCAA bubble team, coach Kathy Williams had wished for the improbable.
“We still have a shot at it; we’re still going to be fighting for a good performance so that we will get a nod,” Williams said Wednesday before the team left for Iowa.
Minnesota would have probably had to win the tournament and hope that Missouri, who is ranked ahead of it, collapsed for the Gophers to even have an outside shot of advancing into the NCAA playoffs.
Because of a scheduling mix-up, the results of the Big Ten championships, which will be held May 2-4 in East Lansing, Mich., will not have any bearing on which Big Ten teams advance to regionals.
Fifth-year senior Carolyn Klecker had the team’s top finish, tying for ninth with a three-round total of 233. Klecker battled back after a disappointing first round 81 to post consecutive rounds of 76 on the par 73 Finkbine Golf Course to finish 14 over par. Sophomore Melanie Lepp recorded a 17-over-par 236, good for a 13th-place tie.
Junior Amy Dahle, who entered the meet with the best stroke average on the team (78.1), tied for 25th with a 22-over 241. Keri Sawvell, another junior, finished in a 31st-place tie with a 243. Sophomores Michelle Ballou and Kristi Weichert were 42nd and 46th, respectively.
The Gophers will have two weeks off before competing in the Big Tens, their last competition of the season.