Ahlers rallies to earn GPAC title, national tournament berth

By Jacob Knabel on May. 2, 2017 in Women's Golf

COLUMBUS, Neb. – After three-straight years of top five conference finishes, senior Amy Ahlers has risen to the top. The native of Albion, Neb., is the program’s first-ever conference champion. Ahlers may have finished her college classes, but her collegiate golf career will live on. She has punched her ticket to the national championships in sunny Florida.

Ahlers got down by as many as eight strokes on Tuesday, but she actually had little idea what the leaderboard looked like until later in the day. She played her game and finished the tournament with a score of 83-76-77-83–319. She rallied to beat Mount Marty’s Logan Wagner by nine strokes. Dakota Wesleyan’s Kristin Sabers also passed Wagner and was five strokes in back of Ahlers.

For Ahlers, the GPAC spring championships forced her to return to Quail Run Golf Course in Columbus, Neb., where she had a difficult experience at the high school state tournament as a senior. She overcame those demons.

“It meant everything,” Ahlers said. “Last time I actually played on this course was state golf my senior year and I did not win. It was hard. It stung a lot. When it got moved back to Quail Run, I was like, ‘This is like my second chance. This is it.’ It’s definitely a good feeling.”

Ahlers had come close to titles in each of her first three seasons as a Bulldog. At the conference tournament, she placed fourth as a freshman, second as a sophomore and third as a junior. She entered this week as one of the favorites to win the title. She stayed cool under pressure.

“I was playing with Kristin Sabers and her dad was looking at the leaderboard so I found out on like hole 13 that Logan had shot 85 on the first 18,” Ahlers said. “So yeah, that definitely made me nervous. I don’t know if it was a good thing or a bad thing that I knew that.

“It’s a lot (of pressure). I haven’t really slept much the last couple weeks – a few golf nightmares in there. At the end of the day, I just knew I had to be aggressive and go for it. Playing it safe wasn’t going to work any longer. I’ve been hoping this would happen for so long.”

From a team perspective, head coach Brett Muller’s squad finished in eighth place, but saved its best GPAC round of 2016-17 for last. The Concordia women’s golf team carded a GPAC total of 386-378-377-368–1,509.

It was also a promising end to the freshman season of Crete native Murphy Sears, who actually beat out Ahlers in round four of the conference championships with an 81, a team low and career low. That performance pushed Sears into 11th place overall with her cumulative score of 85-90-89-81–345.

The only other Bulldog to play all four GPAC rounds and qualify for the overall leaderboard was Payton DeMers-Saling (112-101-105-103–421). Both Lauren Sperry (111-106-101–318) and Madison Pitsch (106-118-110–334) competed in three of four rounds while Paighton Barbre participated in two (141-112–253).

Ahlers will walk the stage for commencement on Saturday, but then it will be time to refocus on golf. She will now play at the 2017 NAIA Women’s Golf National Championships, May 23-26 at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

“I’m just really proud of Amy,” Muller said. “She came into this week with a goal of winning the conference and she went out and did it. Being GPAC champion and making it to nationals is a fitting way for her to end her college career. She’s really everything that you would want a Concordia student-athlete to be.”