May 24, 2013
ATHENS, Ga. - The fourth and final day of the 2013 NCAA Women's Golf Championships proved to be a record-setting day for Michigan State.
The Spartans posted their best-ever finish at the NCAA Championships by tying for ninth place, surpassing their 12th-place finish in 2001. MSU did so by tallying a 72-hole total of 39-over-par 1191 (298-291-298-304) at the University of Georgia Golf Course, marking its lowest total at nationals by 10 shots.
Junior Christine Meier led the way, tying for sixth place with a 1-over 289 (72-75-69-73), equaling the best finish by a Spartan at the NCAA Championships. Meier's 289 is the second-lowest score in program history at nationals and the fourth-lowest 72-hole total in the school record books.
"There was a lot of hugging and a lot of crying. It just feels great to set a goal that has never been reached in program history," said MSU head coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll, who has repeatedly stated throughout her 16-year tenure that the program's goal was a top-10 finish at the NCAA Championships. "It was quite a while ago when we finished 12th. We've accomplished so many things as a program. There's a lot of Division I golf schools (263), and to finish ninth in the nation is just awesome. This is what we worked so hard for. We have a lot to be proud of at Michigan State."
A native of Rochester Hills, Mich., Meier capped her record-setting finish with a 1-over 73 on Friday. She collected three birdies on the day, including one on her final hole, the par-4, 386-yard ninth. In Thursday's third round, Meier shot a 3-under 69, tying the best round by a Spartan at the NCAA Championships.
"Christine was just in a zone the whole tournament," Slobodnik-Stoll said. "She was really dialed in to what she was doing. She has very high goals for herself and this team, and all the work that she's put in came to fruition this week with a tie for sixth in an incredible field with the best players in the country. It was very rewarding to see her up there with the top 15 players in the country."
Senior Caroline Powers finished her remarkable career at Michigan State with an even-par 72, including four birdies. Powers tied for 50th overall with a 13-over 301 (76-74-79-72) and secured the lowest career scoring average in Michigan State history with a 74.26, besting Laura Kueny's previous record of 74.60.
"Today was the toughest day and Caroline still played her best round of the tournament, which was great to see," commented Slobodnik-Stoll, as Powers tied for the sixth-lowest round of the day.
The Spartans ended the third round in 12th place and remained outside of the top 10 until the final hole of the tournament. The Spartans closed their round in 11th but moved into a tie for ninth with Oklahoma and Tulane after the Sooners and Green Wave both closed at 2-over on the final hole (No. 9). Michigan State's fourth-round total of 304 was its highest of the tournament but still the ninth lowest of the day out of 24 teams.
"We kind of got used to that after regionals," said Slobodnik-Stoll with a laugh, as the Spartans had to wait nearly eight hours after the completion of their final round to see if they qualified for the NCAA Championships, which they did by one stroke.
"There were so many high scores today; the course played tough. We had two phenomenal scores (Meier and Powers) and a couple that we had to count that we didn't feel great about, but for the field as a whole the scores were a lot higher. We did what we needed to do and got the outcome we were looking for."
Junior Allyssa Ferrell also finished at 13-over 301 (74-72-74-81) after shooting an 81 in the fourth round and tied for 50th along with Powers.
Top-ranked Southern California claimed the 2013 National Championship by 21 shots over third-ranked Duke with a score of 19-under 1133. USC's Annie Park won medalist honors with a 10-under 278.
Four of Michigan State's five starters will return to the lineup in 2013-14 as Michigan State will look to make another run at the top 10 at the NCAA Championships.
Meier's sixth-place finish equaled Caroline Powers, who tied for sixth at the 2011 NCAA Championships in College Station, Texas...Powers' 72-hole total of 288 at the 2011 NCAA Championships still stands as the lowest score by a Spartan at nationals...Michigan State has appeared in nine of the last 14 NCAA Championships, all under head coach Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll...the Spartans' previous 72-hole record at the NCAA Championships arrived last season, when they totaled a 1201 at the Legends Club in Franklin, Tenn.