May 10, 2014
CLE ELUM, Wash. - The No. 23 Michigan State women's golf team is heading back to the NCAA Championships for the third year in a row, tying a school record.
The Spartans advanced to the NCAA Championships on Saturday after placing fifth at the NCAA West Regional with a 39-over-par 913 (291-311-301). The top-eight teams in the 24-team regional, which was held at the Tumble Creek Golf Club at Suncadia Resort, qualified for nationals May 20-23 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
This marks the 12th time Michigan State has advanced to the NCAA Championships, and the 10th time under Spartan head coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll. MSU also reached nationals three straight years from 2000-02. The Spartans, who placed a school-record ninth at last year's NCAA Championships, were playing in their 16th consecutive NCAA Regional.
"We really controlled our own destiny today," said Slobodnik-Stoll. "This team didn't want the season to end at the regional tournament. We never moved down, and actually moved up a spot today. I'm very proud of all of them. The neat thing about this team is that any one of them at any time can shoot low numbers. It's very exciting to know you can count on everyone."
The past two seasons, the Spartans had to rally in the third round to place in the top eight. This year, MSU was in the top eight the entire tournament, finishing 18 shots ahead of ninth place Wisconsin and Wake Forest. No. 1 USC won the regional with a 12-over 876.
Washington, Arizona State, Oklahoma, Iowa State, Texas A&M and Northwestern also qualified for the NCAA Championships.
A trio of experienced seniors - Allyssa Ferrell, Christine Meier and Liz Nagel - led the Spartans on Saturday, securing the team's berth to the NCAA Championships. Ferrell shot the best round of the day with a 1-over 73 and tied for 17th place with a 9-over 225 (73-79-73), while Meier carded a 74 and tied for 28th at 228 (74-80-74). Nagel was the team's highest finisher, tying for 14th place after tallying a 75 in the third round to close out at 8-over 224 (70-79-75).
"It was their time," Slobodnik-Stoll said. "These seniors have won three Big Ten Championships and they deserve to be at the national championships to try and better what we did last year. They stepped up today and made it happen under tough conditions. It was a great day."
Freshman Kelly Grassel rounded out the team's scoring with a 79 and finished tied for 54th place with a 233 (76-78-79). Red-shirt freshman Gabby Yurik, who shot the team's lowest round on Friday, tied for 68th (74-75-87--236).
The top-eight teams in each NCAA Regional (East, Central, West) will now meet for the national championship at the Tulsa Country Club; live scoring from all four rounds will be available at NCAA.com.