The Vikings shot a 632, 56-over-par, to place second, only three strokes behind leader Cal State East Bay on the Blackhorse Golf Course.
Sophomore Marisa Toivonen led her team with an individual sixth–place finish, shooting eight-over-par 152. Senior Allie Ostrander was close behind at 154 for seventh place, finishing 10-over-par.
“I do feel like we are getting great rounds of golf in,” Toivonen said. “We are playing against excellent competition. It is fortunate we were able to play two tournaments in California with great weather, and grass to play on.”
Over spring break, the Vikings headed to Palm Desert, Calif. to host the Augustana Spring Fling. The team placed sixth at 660 with Toivonen individually taking third place, shooting a seven-over-par 151.
“Marisa has had a very solid start to the spring season,” head coach Peggy Kirby said. The sophomore earned her second straight NSIC Women’s Golfer of the Week honors this week for her second top-10 finish.
Toivonen, who placed fourth in last year’s conference and regional tournaments, said she is focusing on playing her best at each course.
“Our team always has the goal of making it to the national championships, but we first have to keep our eyes on playing well the rest of the season,” Toivonen said. “Individually, I am looking to help the team any way I can.”
In California, the team said the warm weather and difficult courses have provided for good preparation for the rest of the spring season.
“I was very proud of the way they played, especially since we have only been outdoors for two weeks,” Kirby said.
Practicing through long South Dakota winters puts the team at a disadvantage compared to teams from warmer climates, and Kirby said it was a big bonus for the Vikings to play courses in California.
“The California teams have been playing and practicing outdoors since early February, so for us to have almost won against a strong western field was a big confidence boost that the team needed,” Kirby said.
Toivonen said the views of the ocean and palm trees on the California golf courses are hard to beat and said the trips have been memorable.
“I am extremely lucky to be a part of such a close knit group of girls and coaches,” Toivonen said. “I couldn’t imagine experiencing all of this without them. They make it all worth it.”
Also helping to lead the team this year are seniors Ostrander and Maggie Leland. Leland tied for 15th at the Otter Invitational with a 158.
“Maggie and Allie played well this week at the Otter Invitational, and the team needs their leadership in the weeks ahead,” Kirby said.
Ostrander said the team’s number one goal is to return to the national tournament, which hopefully includes conference and regional titles as well.
“We definitely have the talent and the determination to get there,” Ostrander said.
When asked about individual goals, Ostrander said she is focusing on staying positive and keeping her swing shots simple to help improve her long game.
The team looks to start practicing outside this week, focusing on their short game and putting. Since the Vikings haven’t practiced outdoors since October, Kirby said their short game tends to suffer.
“I need the entire team to continue to work hard through this short spring season,” Kirby said, “and I am confident in all of them to get us to post season play.”
The Vikings will play the Upper Iowa Tournament April 5-6 in Waterloo, Iowa, and are preparing to host the Augustana Spring Invite April 12-13 at Prairie Green Golf Course in Sioux Falls.