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Warriors claim third in fall stage of NSAA Championships

Waldorf Warriors LogoBy Waldorf Sports Information Director

ALBERT LEA, Minn. – The Waldorf University women’s golf team claimed third place in the fall stage of the North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) Championships.

Wrapping up the two-day tournament on Tuesday, the Warriors turned in a 36-hole team score of 701 strokes. It’s a strong start to the cumulative 72-hole conference tournament, which concludes with the final two rounds in the spring.

“We’re in good position,” Waldorf coach Mark Clouse said. “We know that we’re one of the contenders for the league title.”

The Warriors head into the spring portion of the tournament 42 strokes out of first place. With the right preparation, they possess the ability to close the gap.

“We’re one or two holes away from being really, really close to the lead,” Clouse said. “We can make adjustments for that because we’re playing good golf top to bottom. It’s really good to see at the right time. When you have the conference tournament, you want to be at your peak.”

Waldorf’s Fernanda Valdes secured fourth, firing a 165-stroke total behind rounds of 83 and 82 on the par-72 layout at Wedgewood Cove Golf Club. The junior from Morelia, Mexico will be within striking distance when the spring rolls around.

“She’s definitely one of the top players in the conference,” Clouse said. “You want to be near the top heading into those last rounds. You can’t win it the first two rounds, but you can lose it. She’s definitely in the hunt for the individual title.”

Junior Halle Hauer tied for ninth for the Warriors, shooting a 174 following rounds of 91 and 83. Senior Maggie Peters tied for 13th after carding a 177 on rounds of 88 and 89. Along with Valdes, Hauer and Peters will look to make a push for all-conference honors in the spring.

“They’re in really good shape,” Clouse said. “I think they’re going to be contending for those positions. If they continue to progress as they have this fall, then I’m confident that they’ll be in good position after the spring portion of the conference tournament.”

Waldorf junior Kailee Ward tied for 17th with a 185, putting together rounds of 91 and 94. SophomoreHaleigh Biernacki tied for 22nd, turning in a 196-stroke total on rounds of 99 and 97.

After recording a 353-stroke team score during the opening round on Monday, the Warriors improved by five strokes to finish with a 348-stroke round on Tuesday. Steady progress has been the name of the game for the team this fall.

“They’ve been doing a nice job,” Clouse said. “They’ve been seeing good improvement in their games, especially in their short games and it’s showing on the golf course.”

Blustery conditions presented challenges throughout the first two rounds.

“It was definitely two of the windiest days that we’ve had in some time,” Clouse said. “It was a mental test for sure. When you have a 25-mile-per-hour wind gust blowing in your face, you need to be able to decide how much more club to use to get the normal distance. It’s a tough adjustment, but golf is an outside sport so you need to adjust to that when the conditions arise.”

Bellevue University, ranked No. 10 in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) preseason poll, locked up first with 659 strokes. Viterbo University (684) grabbed second while Waldorf (701) took third to place ahead of the University of Jamestown (716), Valley City State University (800), Dickinson State University (821) and Presentation College (1,496).

Bellevue’s Faustina Peve secured first with a 157 while her Bruin teammate Ivane Helias nabbed second with a 161-stroke total. Jamestown’s Annie Nelson placed third with a 163, just two strokes ahead of Valdes. The conference’s team and individual champion advance to the NAIA National Championships, scheduled for May 16-19 at Silvis, Illinois.

Waldorf concludes the fall campaign in the William Penn Classic, opening the two-day tournament on Sunday at Oskaloosa at 10 a.m.

“They’re excited to play again,” Clouse said. “We’ll practice hard in a couple of days and be ready to go.”