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Two golfers represent the Gophers at NCAA Championships

Ben Warian and Isabella McCauley both participated in the national championship for men’s and women’s golf in May
Image by Gopher Athletics
Warian and McCauley earned their first collegiate individual wins in 2024.

Senior golfer Ben Warian and sophomore Isabella McCauley each earned a spot representing the maroon and gold at the NCAA golf Championships in May.

For Warian, the bid was a culmination of four years with the Gophers, but McCauley reached the national championship for the second time after winning her first Big Ten title in April.

Warian was the first player to represent the men’s team on the national stage since the Gophers went as a collective in 2007 and was the first individual since Rob Kerr in 1996.

McCauley became the first Gopher to reach back-to-back NCAA Championships since Kate Hughes in the 80s.

Warian’s grand finale

Warian attended Hill-Murray High School where he competed in three Minnesota State High School League State Tournaments.

Three years into his college career, Warian hoped for his first individual win. He set the program’s single-season scoring record at 70.69 his junior year and had his best finish at the Colleton River Collegiate after he hit 206.

But the title of tournament champion was still missing from his golf resume.

It was not until this year that Warian captured the first win of his college career at the Highland Meadows Intercollegiate. He guided the Gophers to its first team victory since the MacDonald Cup in 2022.

Warian said it was a special week where the hard work paid off.

“A lot of hard work has gone into the last four years,” Warian said. “It was nice to have it culminate in a week like that.”

Warian set two program records, hitting 128 over 36 holes, followed by 198 over 54 holes at the Highland Meadows Intercollegiate tournament. 

Head coach Justin Smith praised Warian for his historic performance.

“He was -14 the first 36 holes,” Smith said. “That was a level of golf that not many have seen, if anybody, has seen in our program’s history.”

Warian placed 16th in the Big Ten tournament and was selected for the NCAA’s Stanford regional tournament.

After day two in Palo Alto, California, Warian placed seventh. He went on to shoot a 65 and tied for second place on the final day of the regional.

Smith watched the entire time and said he was fortunate to be with Warian throughout the week.

“The Stanford regional, I thought, was the best performance he had in his four years, no doubt,” Smith said.

Sophomore superstar McCauley

After making the national championship her freshman season, McCauley started her sophomore year on a roll.

The Simley native grabbed her first-ever college win in the first tournament of her sophomore year. She said it was a special moment.

“I wanted to win a college tournament, and that had been a goal since coming into college,” McCauley said. “I had no idea when it would happen, and to do it right away the first tournament of my sophomore season was super cool.”

McCauley carried her strong play throughout the season, beating her own single-season program scoring record from her freshman year with an average of 72.11 in the 2023-2024 season.

After being crowned conference champion, McCauley experienced more of the same in the postseason. She took part in the Auburn regional and shot a 65 (-7) on the final day to earn second place and a trip to the national championship.

McCauley finished the national championship +11, wrapping up her sophomore campaign. However, the recognition of McCauley’s historic season continued as she was named to the Women’s Golf Coaches Association All-American honorable mention team, the program’s first since 1989.

McCauley said being named an All-American was not even on her goal list.

“I didn’t even know if that would be attainable,” McCauley said. “I didn’t know what the standards were, so to be able to accomplish it was truly a dream come true.”

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