Head Coach: Brett Muller (13th year)
2022-23 GPAC Finish: 10th (365-372-368–1,105)
Key Returners: Emery Custer; Logan Eschliman; Mya Nurse; Sarah Wilson.
Key Loss: Lauren Havlat.
2022-23 GPAC All-Conference: Emery Custer (Newcomer of the Year); Lauren Havlat.
Over the summer, program all-time great Amy (Ahlers) Allgood was officially announced as a Concordia Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2023 inductee. Perhaps the 2023-24 Concordia University Women’s Golf team can find inspiration in the type of student-athlete Amy showcased during her career from 2013-17. The current Bulldogs are in the process of retooling a roster that includes additions from other Concordia athletic programs. At the top of the lineup, Emery Custer looks forward to year two in a collegiate career just beginning to take off.
As Brett Muller enters his 13th season as head coach, he has hopes that the returners and group of newcomers will combine to move the Bulldogs up the ladder within the GPAC and slash the team’s 2022-23 scoring average of 359.1. The fall will help set the tone for the conference tournament in the spring.
“It’s changed a little in our preparation,” Muller said. “We have to be our best at the end of the spring season. We put a little more emphasis on the spring, but the fall still matters. We’re really jockeying for position in the fall and trying to gain confidence heading into the spring. We’re trying to push the weather in the spring and make sure we’re ready to go. Spring golf in the Midwest isn’t always the best weather, as we found out last spring. We have to be ready to go.”
Concordia wound up in 10th place in the GPAC this past spring following the graduation of Kendra Placke. The program is certainly capable of competing near the top of the conference as it did in 2019-20 and 2020-21 when it placed third in back-to-back seasons. The presence of the sophomore Custer from Broken Bow, Neb., is a good place to start. She was named the GPAC Newcomer of the Year while carding an average score of 87.3 this past season. Custer, Mya Nurse, Logan Eschliman and Sarah Wilson are lineup regulars who return from a year ago.
Custer turned in the 2022-23 team’s lowest scoring average at 87.3. A Lincoln Lutheran High School alum, Eschliman chose to use her fifth (‘COVID year’) of eligibility and will strength a deeper roster. Her decision helped lessen the blow from the graduation of Lauren Havlat, a mainstay in the lineup during her four-year Concordia career. This past season, Nurse carded a score as low as 80 and Eschliman posted an 83 in showing their capabilities.
Says Eschliman, “It’ll be good this year. We have two transfers from other sports and both played a lot of high school golf. They’ll be assets to the team this year. I think our freshmen will help us as they grow. I guess I kind of came back to make a statement, so I want to improve myself from the last four years and hopefully be better for the team. I’d like to help us move up in the standings.”
The two Bulldogs Eschliman is referring to are Jennifer Gillotti (former softball player) and Maddie Lewis (former volleyball player). Lewis earned all-state accolades as a senior at Treynor High School while Gillotti played all four years in high school and was a two-time all-conference performer. The roster also features sophomore Ericka Kroeker and freshmen Abigail Kollbaum and Emma McCoy.
If Custer takes a step forward, everything should fit into place nicely. One of the highlights of her freshman campaign was a third-place claim at the College of Saint Mary Spring Classic. Custer placed 25th in the GPAC. Said Muller, “Emery is definitely someone who can lead us on the course. She’s a great competitor and has very high standards for herself. Sometimes she gets a little down on herself because she expects a lot of herself.”
Eschliman is pursuing her MBA as she takes advantage of her opportunity. She says her decision first started out a joke – and then it became reality. Muller is glad to have that experience to help carry along the younger golfers on the roster.
“Logan will provide experience for us on the women’s side,” Muller said. “She has played in the top five in a lot of her collegiate rounds and understands what college golf is all about. She’s really worked hard this summer. Mya had a solid year for us as well. It’s nice to have two returners like that who understand what the GPAC and Concordia Golf looks like.”
The fall season opens the door for the Bulldogs to try to chip away at some of the GPAC competition that placed in front of it in the spring of 2023. The defending GPAC champion is Briar Cliff, which knocked Morningside off its perch. As for Concordia, Eschliman says she hopes the team can consistently compete for top-three finishes at tournaments.
Muller will get an early indication at how much his squad has improved when the Mount Marty Invite unfolds on Aug. 31-Sept. 1. Counting JV events, there will be six tournaments on the fall slate. The spring 2024 schedule will be announced at a later date.
“It’s always nice to play some local events, play GPAC competition and figure out how you stack up with them,” Muller said. “It’s nice to get more regionally based and play some of the top schools in the region. You get to see where you fit in nationally and see where you need to improve. The schedule changes a little bit each year, but we’re always looking to find a competitive schedule.”
The 2023-24 women’s golf schedule can be found HERE. The fall season will run through the Nebraska Intercollegiate on Oct. 6-7.