Clubs ablazing! Women’s golf team wins conference


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After rallying in the last two rounds of close conference play, the UW-Eau Claire women’s golf team claimed their ninth WIAC Championship this weekend. Junior Kate Engler took first place individual honors while the team collectively posted a winning overall score of 999 strokes after 54 holes over a three day span. Junior Emily Stone finished in third place.

Head coach Meghan Sobotta said the team’s spirits coming into the tournament were positive. She said although they struggled at certain points throughout the season, they always came back ready to get better.

“Because of how well they practiced and knew their potential, our attitude was pretty high,” Sobotta said. “I just kept telling them the hard work was going to pay off and just to keep at it. There was never any real doubt; I never saw any bad attitude.”

Following the first round on Friday, Eau Claire was two strokes behind then-leader UW-Stout. Engler said throughout the entire season, the Blue Devils have been back and forth competition, so she wasn’t surprised to see the same situation occur at the conference tournament.

Once play resumed the following day, the Blugolds came out clubs ablazing. They finished Saturday with a six stroke lead. Headed into the last 18 holes of the tournament, Engler said the team was trying to keep a catch-up mentality. She said this way, they would play even harder instead of coasting.

“Going into the last day, I think we as a group made sure that we didn’t act like we already won it,” Engler said. “We were still fighting for it. We acted as if we had a bunch of strokes to make up so we just stayed aggressive and got the job done.”

Sobotta also said she wanted to keep play serious coming into the last round of the tournament. Last year, she said the team dug themselves a hole after the first round of competition, so it was important to stay on track.

“All I could stress was stay steady, so after day two when we pulled in the lead with six strokes, it was huge,” Sobotta said. “But I didn’t want to stress how excited I was that we were in the lead. I just wanted to take them to dinner and relax and play one more day.”

It seems the tactic had a positive impact. The Blugolds finished the final round with their lowest score of the tournament at 326 strokes. This catapulted them nine strokes ahead of the Blue Devils and landed them their fourth conference championship in the past five years.

Engler said competition between herself and second place individual finisher, Stout’s Brit McNett-Emmerich, was apparent during the tournament. She said it stemmed from a competitiveness in high school that seemed to carry over into collegiate play.

“She’s really good competition, she makes me focus more,” Engler said. “We kind of went back and forth, and she just made me focus more on my shots, playing well and staying in the moment.”

The victory gave Eau Claire an automatic bid into the Division III Championship May 13-16 in  Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla. Sobotta said the team is catching up on some homework for now, but they plan to start training for nationals in mid-February.

“Right now, they are relaxing for a bit,” Sobotta said. “They are catching up on some sleep and some school work but we’re just going to take it one day at a time… building our way to the national championship to do the best that we can in Florida.”