by Eva Dean Folkert
Heading into 2019 MIAA Fall Finish, members of the Hope College women's golf team knew they had their work cut out for them to move up in the league standings. Third-place Hope trailed second-place Olivet College by two strokes overall.
And work the Flying Dutch did through rain on Friday and chilly, windy weather on Saturday. When all was played and done, the Flying Dutch outshot every MIAA team except league-leading Saint Mary's, and claimed second place at both the two-day event and in the league's final standings.
"This weekend we had great attitudes, great preparation," head coach Greg Stafford said. "The team knew what they had to accomplish and they went out and did it."
"I could see it coming the last match at Trine," Stafford continued. "We were playing better and I just had a very good feeling going into this weekend. I said we were in a good position and we played very well. And we got rewarded with second place because of it."
At the conclusion of league competition this fall, Saint Mary's is the 2019 league champion with 1910 strokes; Hope is second with 2010; Olivet finished third with 2033; and, Trine University took fourth with 2060.
At the MIAA Fall Finish at Bedford Valley Country Club in Battle Creek, Friday's competition was suspended due to rain. No team finished its round as most players had three to five holes to go. When play resumed in drier but much colder conditions on Saturday, the Flying Dutch battled both the elements and the course and posted rounds of 327 and 338 (665). With Olivet shooting 334 and 356 (690), the Flying Dutch made up their two-stroke deficit to the Comets and then some. Over the two days, Hope overtook the Comets by 23 strokes.
Saint Mary's won the MIAA Fall Finish by shooting 307 and 324 (631).
"It was much tougher conditions today (Saturday) honestly than yesterday," said Stafford. "All the women were exhausted at the end. Playing in wind like that just tires you out. The least anyone played was 21 holes. Most of the team played 22 or 23 holes today."
Junior Jordyn Rioux of Farmington (Livonia Ladywood HS) and freshman Grace VanDellen of Oxford (Lutheran Northwest HS) tied for seventh place individually and led the Flying Dutch with 166 totals. Rioux shot rounds of 83-83 while Van Dellen carded rounds of 84-82.
Sophomore Megan Jenkinson of Traverse City (Traverse City West HS) was Hope's first round leader with a 77. She recorded a 90 in the second round for 167, good for a 10th place tie individually.
Junior Abigail Meder of Lansing (Lansing Catholic Central HS) fired a 83 and 85 for 168 total strokes, tying her for 12th place while sophomore Lexi Miller of Bremen, Indiana (Bremen HS) shot a pair of 88s for a 176 total, putting her in 25th place.
Jenkinson, Meder and Rioux claimed All-MIAA Second Team honors for the season.
With second place in the league secured, Hope will host 18 holes of the MIAA's 54-hole NCAA Division III national championship qualifier. A date, a time and place will be announced in the spring.