The women’s golf team received three top-10 performances on its way to winning the Missouri Valley Conference Preview at Lake Panorama National Golf Course this week.
Sophomore Caitlin Deeken led the charge for the Braves, firing a pair of 79s for a two-day total of 158, which earned her a tie for third place overall. Deeken also tied her season low of 79 on the way to her first career top-10 finish.
“It was great to see Caitlin come through,” coach Bo Ryan said. “She has been making progress every single time she comes out and now, a third-place finish in a conference meet – this is by far the best effort I’ve seen from her.”
Joining Deeken in the top 10 were senior Bari Erais and sophomore Breanne Neufeld, who tied each other for sixth place at 159. The pair’s final rounds of 78 and 77 helped lead Bradley to a total score of 637, edging out Drake, which took second place at 640.
With the sixth-place honors, Erais furthered her school record for top-10 finishes to 18, and closed in on another record as well. At 65 career rounds in the 70s, Erais is now within one round of Meaghan LeBlanc’s school record of 66.
Freshman Kelly Amundrud finished just outside the top 10, with her score of 161 (82-79) earning her sole possession of 13th place, while freshman Keegan Ryan rounded out scoring for the Braves by totaling 179 (94-85), and tying for a piece of 47th place.
Bradley also sent two individuals to compete at the tournament, with freshman Erin Gorman taking home 46th place in her first collegiate meet and senior Lauren Downing finishing 55th. Gorman ended-up with a total of 178 (88-90) and Downing came in at 189 (95-94).
Wichita State took third in the tournament with a total of 648. Missouri State followed one shot behind at 649 and Northern Iowa finished fifth at 659.
“This was really a nice win for us,” Ryan said. “We haven’t beat Missouri State or Northern Iowa all year, but in the long run, it’s what happens in April that matters, not here. It’s always nice to win, but this didn’t really do much other than maybe put a target on our backs for the spring.”
Ryan said he was nervous coming into the tournament that his team may be a little on the rusty side, with many of the players returning home last weekend because of an off-week.
“We had a lot of time off, but I’ll tell you, they really answered the call this week,” Ryan said.
With this being most of the players’ first collegiate win, Ryan said he was confident that with the victory a major step towards continued success had been made this week.
“The biggest step that many of these girls need to take is learning how to win,” Ryan said. “Hopefully getting this first win will give us what we need to get the next one.”
The only downside for the Braves is that conference rival Illinois State elected not to participate in the optional conference preview, which gave Bradley one less look at the squad that Ryan has called the team to beat in the MVC.
The Braves will next travel to the West Coast to play in the Lampkin Cup in San Luis Obispo, Calif. on Nov. 3 to 4.