Erickson finishes as national runner up as Oles are ninth as a team at NCAA's
May 11, 2012
ANGOLA, Ind. - St. Olaf junior Molly Erickson fired a final-round 76 on Friday to finish in a three-way second place tie overall, one stroke off the winning score, and lead the Oles to a ninth place finish at the NCAA Division III Championships.
The Oles' team score of 314 matched the first round as their best of the championships and was the third best score of the season.
Erickson had a very clean scorecard in Friday's final round. After her only double bogey on the 11th, her second hole of the afternoon, she made pars on 14 of the final 16 holes to finish with a 76.
"It was fun to watch," said head coach Luke Benoit of Erickson. "She was striking the ball great."
Erickson was one back of Catherine Wagner of UW-Eau Claire, who survived the final three holes to win the individual title. Wagner had a three-stroke lead onto the 16th tee where she made a bogey. She then made a par on the par-3 17th and a bogey six on the par-5, 471-yard 18th to hold on by a stroke. Wagner is a two-time All-America.
Sharing second place with Erickson were Centre's Emily Bachert -- a four-time first team All-America -- and Sarah Paulson of Central College.
The second place finish at a national tournament is the best for a Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference player since 2004, when Concordia's Katie Taylor was runner up as well. The Cobbers had another in 1992 when Lisa Hanson was also a runner up.
"I felt great off the tee this week. I knew I'd hit a fairway, or be very close, when I needed to," said Erickson, who also said she stayed level-headed through the four rounds. "There was one hole each day where I made a mistake, but each time I stayed calm and was able to leave it behind."
"This is more than I could have hoped for, as a team or individually," she added.
The Oles' first year Maxine Carlson had her best round of the event on Friday, firing a 76 to match Erickson. Four bogies were the only blemishes on the card for Carlson, who closed with seven straight pars. She finished tied for 43rd.
Molly Knutson had a solid finish to the championships. She opened on the back nine and went out in a one-over par 37. She made a birdie on the second and finished with a 77 for the round. Knutson finished tied for 53rd in the event.
The Oles' Vanessa Kleckner, who fired a 77 on Thursday, finished 61st in the event. Teammate Linde Sundell had back-to-back 85's on Thursday and Friday to close the tournament.
The NCAA appearance was the first in school history for St. Olaf, which won the first MIAC title in school history in October.
"We had one bad day, but otherwise hit it pretty well," said Benoit, who was named the Midwest Region's Coach of the Year on Wednesday. "We feel really good about it and think we can be even better next season."