Story by UNK Athletic Communications
The Nebraska-Kearney women's golf team has reached the NCAA Division II Championships for the first-time in the 28-year history of the program thanks to a school-record 54-hole score of 886 at the 2023 Central Regional in Larchwood, Ia.
The nine-team regional field was at the par 72 (6,095 yards) The Falls at Grand Falls Casino. The top three squads, and the top two individuals not on one of those teams, advance to the NCAA's.
The Lopers finished third to secure one of the region's three bids to the championships which will be May 16-20 at the Fox Run Club in Eureka, Mo., located just outside of St. Louis. The 18-team field will play a 54-hole tournament with the top eight advancing to a match play bracket. UNK is slated to tee off next Tuesday (May 16) at 11 a.m. along with the third seeds from the South and West Regions.
UNK had rounds of 289, 298 and 299 to break the previous 54-hole mark by a whopping 33 strokes. The 58th-ranked Lopers led for most of the first two days, but fourth-ranked Henderson (Ark.) State fired a 2-under 286 today with 41st-ranked and tourney host Augustana tallying a 291. HSU thus came in first (877) with the Vikings (885) second. No. 21 Central Missouri (898) was a distant fourth, as was traditional MIAA powers Northeastern State and 43rd-ranked Rogers State.
Showing great balance, Kansas junior Allison Comer placed fifth (2-over 218; 70-76-72), Arizona senior Paige Lucero tied for 12th (7-over 223; 72-76-75), Puerto Rico super senior Faviola Gonzalez tied for 16th (8-over 225; 75-73-77), Colombian sophomore Juliana Botero Molina tied for 20th (226; 77-74-75) and Kansas sophomore Brooke King tied for 23rd (227; 72-75-80).
Lucero had a day-three best four birdies, Botero Molina carded three with Comer's even par 72 featuring 13 consecutive pars. For the tournament, Lucero led the entire field in birdies (13), Comer tied for second in pars (40) with Gonzalez 4-under on par 5 holes. The previous 54-hole individual UNK mark was a 224, set by Gonzalez and King in two tourneys this year, with the team mark of 919 set back in the fall at the D2 Invite in Florida.
Finally, Yasmin Hang of Northeastern State was the medalist (4-under 21) with third place finisher Paige Hoffman of Northwest Missouri (even par 216) grabbing the second individual NCAA spot.