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Sports

Belles take 17th at DIII NCAA Tournament after MIAA championship

| Friday, May 21, 2021

The 2020-2021 Saint Mary’s golf team captured an MIAA championship and advanced to its tenth DIII NCAA tournament in program history under first-year head coach Jordan Koehler. At the tournament, the Belles posted a team score of 1008 after three rounds of competition which put them in seventeenth place overall.

Though the team was unable to advance to the fourth round as one of the top fifteen teams remaining in the field, senior Hunter Kehoe’s exceptional spring continued. Kehoe shot 76-78-79-75 over the entire four rounds to post a total score of 308 (+20), a performance that earned her a tie for sixth place individually. Kehoe’s efforts earned her All-American recognition for the second consecutive season.

A few weeks prior, the Traverse City, Michigan native captured the MIAA Most Valuable Golfer award in the final MIAA Jamboree of the season after shooting an event-best even-par 72 at Thornapple Pointe. Kehoe became the first-ever Saint Mary’s golfer to be awarded league MVP for the third time, and she also garnered First Team All-MIAA honors for the fourth time in her career.

This season, in particular, Kehoe posted a team-leading average score of 76 and had the best individual score in three of seven regular-season tournaments. Junior Sydney Hruskoci, who was second on the team for the season with an average score of 80, also earned First Team All-MIAA recognition for the third time in her career after a fifth-place finish at the final event with a score of 80.

Freshmen Haley Angel and Ashley Brewster and sophomore Erin Bennett were the other three Belles who appeared in every match of the season with Kehoe and Hruskoci.

Overall, the Belles won five out of the seven tournaments they played in during the spring season and came in second place in the other two. In other words, coach Koehler had one heck of a first season as head coach, especially considering she was hired in January and the first tournament was played in March.

Koehler, a 2019 graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University, came to Saint Mary’s from the University of Dubuque, where she served as a graduate assistant to the men’s and women’s golf program for two seasons. The women’s program won its first-ever American Rivers Conference championships in 2019 and 2020 with the help of Koehler’s leadership, and Dubuque was set to make its first NCAA DIII tournament in the spring of 2020 prior to the cancellations.

In her own career at Illinois Wesleyan, Koehler was awarded College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin all-conference all four of her seasons and is the Titans’ all-time leader in career birdies. Koehler also owns two of the top ten lowest season scoring averages in Illinois Wesleyan history and was a team captain in her final three seasons.

If this season proved anything, it was that the future is bright for the Belles.

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