The Loyola women’s golf team tied for fifth out of 10 teams at the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Championship April 15-17 in Newton, Kansas. Since joining the conference in 2013, this is the highest the Ramblers have finished on the leaderboard.
“I think we were all determined to win MVC, but it was still a good showing,” head coach Carly Schneider said.
Senior Jessie Staed finished tied for fourth, individually — the highest a Rambler has finished at the MVC Championship — with a final score of 224 (75-74-75). Staed and junior Elayna Bowser were both named All-MVC for their performances. Bowser led the team with a 76.5 stroke average while Staed finished in second with a career-best 77.8 stroke average.
Staed, a sport management major at Loyola, said she plans to move to Las Vegas after graduation to work at a golf course alongside one of her childhood friends. She also said her parents were at the MVC Championship to watch her play her final round as a Rambler.
“It was great having my parents there watching me for my last tournament,” Staed said. “I don’t think I’ve seen my mom at a tournament since the fall and same with my dad, I don’t think I’d seen him at a tournament since last year. So to have them both come for my last tournament those last couple rounds was great.”
Prior to the tournament, Bowser said she was struggling with her putting and decided to dye her hair pink for good luck. Despite shooting a season-high 84 in the first round, she came back to shoot an even-par 72 in the second round. She said that was just one of many superstitions she has while on the course.
“I’m really superstitious when it comes to golf,” Bowser said. “I have the same towel and I haven’t washed it [in a long time] and I only mark my ball with a red marker. Little stuff like that, but I was just like ‘Screw it with the hair.’”
The Ramblers are set to bring back six of their eight golfers next season, including three of their top-four in stroke average. Loyola is also slated to bring two rising first-years, and Sara Posada — who had to sit out this season after transferring from University of Illinois at Springfield — to the roster next season. Schneider said with so many assets returning, it’ll be hard for her to pick a starting lineup for tournaments.
“The girls I have now are, I think, going to come back next year and … hopefully be great leaders for the girls coming in,” Schneider said. “It’ll be a really strong team next year. I think there’s going to be a lot of healthy competition within them.”
Now heading into her senior season, Bowser said she sees the program going nowhere but up with three of the golfers who competed at the MVC Championship returning.
“We’re just going to be losing Jessie [from the lineup], but it’s not the end of the world to be just losing one person,” Bowser said. “What I think we need, moving forward, is not so much to rely on [the top] four players, but we need a fifth and a sixth, even, to be in the mix so there’s not as much pressure on those four players.”
The Ramblers are set to begin the 2018-19 season next fall. The schedule hasn’t been released at the time of publication.