SIOUX CENTER, Iowa – The climb up the GPAC ladder continues for the Concordia University women’s golf program, which sits in the third place in the league standings following a team total of 343 at Monday’s GPAC Qualifier No. 1. That performance represented a 16-stroke improvement compared to the Bulldogs’ top conference qualifier score from 2013-14 when fourth-year head coach Brett Muller’s squad placed sixth in the GPAC. It was also a 33-stroke decrease from the 376 the team posted at the same course exactly a week earlier.
Individually, sophomore Amy Ahlers turned in the best round of her young collegiate career with a 78, tying her for second among the field of 55 GPAC individuals who navigated The Ridge Golf Course in Sioux Center, Iowa.
“It’s a huge step for us to be playing with Northwestern and Dakota Wesleyan at the next GPAC qualifier,” Muller said. “It’s a position we’ve never really been in. It’s just one tournament but it’s a great starting point. We need to continue to work hard and be prepared for Firethorn (site of GPAC Qualifier No. 2), which will be the toughest course we face all year.”
Concordia also had two others place in the top nine on Monday. Freshman Emma Jacoby shook off a 96 in the season-opening Dordt Invite and turned in an 82 at GPAC No. 1 for an eighth-place standing. Right on her heels was teammate Kayla Krueger, a sophomore who came up with a career low of her own with an 83 (tied for ninth).
“It was an exciting day,” Muller said. “Our top three played fantastic. Amy got over the hump and finally got into the 70s. She went 39-39. Emma and Kayla had personal bests too. That was our lowest GPAC score in quite a while, definitely since I’ve been here.”
All in all, four of the five golfers in Muller’s lineup had career lows. The Nos. 4 and 5 spots were filled on Monday by freshmen Ashlen Pospisil (100) and Brenna Gnuse (105).
Ahlers, who tied for fourth in the GPAC last year as a freshman, sought to avoid the slow start she got off to last year when she carded an 89 in the first conference meet. The native of Albion, Neb., did not envision a double bogey on her first hole, but she locked in and shot four-over-par the rest of the way on Monday.
Meanwhile, Jacoby, a former Lincoln North Star standout, avoided the trouble she found herself in a week earlier at the Dordt Invite.
“We all knew she was better than the 96,” Muller said. “She was a very good player in high school. I think she just had the first tournament jitters last week. She got off to a great start today with pars on her first two holes and that helped calm her down.”
Kruger’s 83 topped her personal best of 84 at last year’s GPAC Qualifier No. 2. Krueger led Concordia last week with an 87 at the Dordt Invite.
The only two teams above Concordia heading into GPAC Qualifier No. 2 are perennial powers Dakota Wesleyan (312) and Northwestern (334). Northwestern’s Emma Wynja has the individual lead with her 76. Dakota Wesleyan’s top four players all turned in 78s and are tied with Ahlers in a tightly-grouped leaderboard.
Last season the Bulldogs made a big leap in the conference by jumping from 11th place in 2012-13 to sixth place in 2013-14. Last year Concordia carded a four-round GPAC total of 366-374-383-359–1,482.
Next up for Bulldog women’s golf is the Peru State Invite on Sunday at Table Creek Golf Course in Nebraska City, Neb. The second and final GPAC Qualifier of the fall will be held on Monday, Oct. 6 at Firethorn Golf Course in Lincoln, Neb.