Head Coach: Brett Muller (11th year)
2020-21 GPAC Finish: 3rd (368-359-327-339–1,393)
Key Returners: Logan Eschliman; Lauren Havlat; Emily Jensen; Kendra Placke.
Key Losses: Mia Martin; Andrea Peterson.
2020-21 GPAC All-Conference: Kendra Placke (7th); Andrea Peterson (13th); Mia Martin.
Momentum has built for a Concordia Women’s Golf program that has placed third in the GPAC in back-to-back seasons. While two all-conference performers have graduated and moved on, Seward’s own Kendra Placke returns with an opportunity to stake a claim as perhaps the greatest golfer in program history. Considering Placke’s status as one of the very best competitors in the GPAC, the outlook is potentially rosy once again.
Head Coach Brett Muller, who enters his 11th season leading the men’s and women’s golf teams, knows there is work to do to replace Mia Martin and Andrea Peterson, but the makings are there for another solid campaign.
“The biggest difference with the women’s program is just the depth,” Muller said. “We’ve had more capable players able to shoot in the 80s or low 90s, which really helps the team score. I believe our girls have improved in terms of consistency. With the returners we have, I look for our top five to be pretty competitive again.”
The Bulldogs entered this past spring with a legitimate chance to place as high as second in the conference. They came up a bit short of that lofty placement, but on the season’s final day, three Concordia golfers shot an 82 or lower. In order for the Bulldogs to remain as one of the league’s top three squads, continued improvement from the likes of Lauren Havlat (92.7 average in 2020-21), Logan Eschliman (95.2) and Emily Jensen (96.6) will be a key.
Muller knows what to expect from Placke, who is known for her ability to crush the ball off the tee. Over 18 rounds last season, Placke shot in the 70s on eight separate occasions. She was the champion of both the Lila Frommelt Classic and the Buena Vista Fall Invite.
“Probably the biggest thing for Kendra is her approach to the game,” Muller said. “She’s pretty laid back. Sometimes I wish she’d have a little more of an edge. However, she doesn’t get too upset in a round. Then you have her ability to hit the long ball off the tee. When she’s hitting it well of the tee, she can really take advantage and make the golf courses a lot shorter.”
The accolades have been nice for Placke, but she has taken more pride in accomplishing goals as a team. Not only did Concordia place third in the GPAC last season, it also won the Matthew Goette Classic, placed second at the Buena Vista Invite and took third (out of 15 teams) at its own Concordia Bulldog Invite.
“I feel like we have a great group of girls right now that just love the game,” Placke said. “We go out and work hard and love to be with each other and we love to play. That’s a great advantage when you like being at the golf course and you work hard in the summers. It’s been so much fun. I don’t really think about the past that much. I just think about the future. We definitely had a good group of girls last year. It’s fun to walk by the record board downstairs (in the Walz Complex) and see all of our names down there now. That was exciting to see.”
The roster includes a freshman in Sarah Wilson, a native of Papillion, Neb. Not previously mentioned returners are Ashley Gerczynski and Mya Nurse. The entire roster will likely have the opportunity to compete at many of the team’s events. The fall season gets going with the Mount Marty Invite on Sept. 2-3. The fall portion of the GPAC Championships will take place Oct. 4-5 in Vermillion, S.D.
Says Muller, “On the women’s side, we might be little behind on paper from where we were last year, but I really think we have some talent to be right around where we finished last season.”
Having Placke and her long drives at the top of the lineup is a good place to start. She has a clear advantage on longer courses. “I’ve always been a big hitter – it’s a strength and a weakness, I guess,” Placke said. “When you get in tight courses with trees or hazards on both sides it gets a little intimidating. I definitely thrive on a longer-style course because I can pull out my longer clubs and whack away.”
Even when the weather turns cold, members of the program will be able to sharpen their game through the use of the new simulator that exists inside the Hitting Center. The new piece of equipment could provide an advantage heading into the second half of the season in the spring. By that time, the Bulldogs hope they have established themselves as one of the top teams in the GPAC once again.