Blue Devils rally to win first WIAC golf crown

Blue Devils win first WIAC golf crown

By University Communications
October 9, 2012
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Photo: UW-Stout Spotlight Photo

UW-Stout overcame an 11-stroke deficit to captured the 2012 Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) Women’s Golf Championship after three days of competition at Bull’s Eye Country Club. The Blue Devils' Brittany McNett-Emmerich (So, Madison) captured medalist honors and coach Howie Samb was selected as the coach of the year.

With the victory the Blue Devils claimed the conference’s automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Championship that will be conducted May 14-17, 2013, in Destin, Fla.

The conference title for the Blue Devils is the first in program history. UW-Stout entered the final 18 holes of competition facing an 11-stroke deficit to UW-Whitewater and finished the 54-hole event with 1024 strokes.

"Today was a really tough day to play and the girls didn't play as well as they would have liked," Samb said. "But the effort was there and they all displayed a positive attitude all three days. Since day one when I took over as coach I have stressed the importance of trying your best on every single shot because you never know when that one shot will make a huge difference. Today was that day."

"The conditions were really tough all three days," Samb said. "As I told the girls, the team that was the most mentally tough would be the last team standing and as it turned out that was the case."

UW-Whitewater placed second with 1025 strokes, while three-time defending champion UW-Eau Claire took third with 1026 strokes. UW-River Falls finished fourth with 1073 strokes, UW-Platteville fifth with 1088, UW-Stevens Point sixth with 1130 and UW-Oshkosh seventh with 1145.

Individually, McNett-Emmerich, who came into the tournament with the best stroke average in the league this fall, captured medalist honors in the 48-player field with a 54-hole total of (83-78-73) 234 strokes.

"Britt played the best round today that I've seen in my years of coaching," Samb said. "She hit the ball solid, controlled her emotions and really played with confidence. I had several spectators say that it was the best round they had ever seen in DIII women's golf."

McNett-Emmerich is the first individual in program history to earn medalist distinction at the league event. McNett-Emmerich was second after the first day, but took the lead in the second day and carried it through with a commanding one-over 73 on the final day of competition, the lowest round in the tournament this year.

UW-Eau Claire’s Catherine Wagner placed second with 246 strokes, while teammate Kate Engler was third with 248. UW-Whitewater’s Nicole Westcott took fourth with 250 and UW-Stevens Point’s McKenna Prestigiacomo fifth with 251. UW-Platteville’s Kellsey Welter and UW-River Falls’ Gillian McDonald tied for sixth with 254. A four-way tie for eighth-place at 257 strokes included UW-Platteville’s Kelsey Lieving, UW-Stout’s Mariah Chesley (So, Mankato, Minn) and UW-Whitewater’s Sarah Bregant and Sammie Leibham.

Maddy Paulsen (Fr, Apple Valley, Minn) placed 13th (88-85-89 - 262), Meghan Whittaker (Sr, Duluth, Minn) was 15th (89-87-91 - 267), Alex Westman (Fr, Richfield, Minn) was 21st (96-92-86 - 274), Hannah Lee (Sr, Lino Lakes, Minn) was 23rd (91-97-88 - 276) and Anna Busch (So, Red Wing, Minn) was 26th (93-91-97 - 281).

Now, with the conference's automatic bid in the bag, the Blue Devils will prepare to step onto the largest of all stages - the NCAA Division III Championships next May.

"This is really unexpected for the team," Samb said. "Not once this season did the word Nationals come up. .Now we have to prove ourselves on a much bigger stage, but we all look forward to the challenge."

Samb, who is in his sixth year as the Blue Devil head coach, was selected the Coach of the Year by the league coaches. He won the award for the second straight year and third time in the last four seasons. Stout last season finished one stroke out of second place.

UW-Whitewater’s Catherine Hiltenbrand recorded only the second hole-in-one in 17-year history of the WIAC championship. She aced the 131-yard eighth hole using an 8-iron. UW-Stevens Point’s Leah Haas recorded the previous hole-in-one at the 1998 championship.

An All-Sportsmanship Team was chosen for individuals that displayed exemplary sportsmanship throughout the season. It included one member from each school. Named to the squad were: UW-Eau Claire's Mandi Salo; UW-Oshkosh's Amanda Bingham; UW-Platteville's Kelsey Lieving; UW-River Falls' Paige Cook; UW-Stevens Point's Olivia Schiefelbein; UW-Stout's Meghan Whittaker and UW-Whitewater's Catherine Hiltenbrand.