Going National: Athletes from 7 Carleton teams head to national championships
Women’s golf, women’s tennis, men’s tennis, women’s water polo, and ultimate frisbee will compete on the national stage
As the calendar continues its march through spring, we move further from the memory of winter and race toward championships season, as at least seven Carleton varsity and club sport programs will have the opportunity to compete on the national stage.
On the varsity side, the No. 1-ranked Women’s Golf team is headed to Houston, Texas, to play at the NCAA Division III Championships. The Knights will tee it up at the Bay Oaks Country Club from May 14-17. The team continues to play well, having come out on top in 21 of its last 23 events dating back to April 15, 2017. The only non-first-place finishes over this span were a seventh-place finish at the 2017 NCAA Championships and a sixth-place result at the 2018 national tournament.
The Knights repeated as Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) champions last fall and did so in record-breaking fashion, smashing their own conference tournament 54-hole scoring record by 20 strokes.
The No. 27-ranked Women’s Tennis program is headed back to the NCAA Championships for the seventh time as a team. This will be the Knights’ first trip to the national tournament since 2014, having also earned a spot in the championships in 1995, 1996, 2005, 2012 and 2013. Carleton owns an 18-2 overall record this season, including a perfect 10-0 ledger during the MIAC regular-season schedule. The Knights earned the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Championships by capturing the MIAC Playoffs title over nationally-ranked Bethel University by a 5-2 margin.
Carleton heads to Whitewater, Wis., for a seven-team regional that runs from May 10-12. The Knights open the tournament against Edgewood College (21-7) at 1 p.m. on Friday.
While the No. 38-ranked Men’s Tennis program fell short in its bid for the national tournament, two members of the squad did earn berths in the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships, which will be held on May 24-26 in Kalamazoo, Mich.
Sophomore Leo Vithoontien, who owns a 23-2 overall record this season, secured a spot in the 32-player singles bracket for the second consecutive year. He will be joined at nationals this time by senior Jordon O’Kelly as the duo plays in the 16-team doubles tournament after posting a 19-5 record in 2018-19. Vithoontien and O’Kelly likely moved up enough in the rankings to punch their ticket to the championships after knocking off the Central Region’s top-ranked tandem from Gustavus in the MIAC Playoffs.
WOMEN’S WATER POLO
The women’s water polo team—nicknamed the Righteous Babes—went 7-1 during the regular season and was the top seed in the Heartland Division Championship, where Carleton notched three more victories, including a 7-4 triumph over host Grinnell College. That result earned the Righteous Babes their first bid to the Women’s Division III National Collegiate Club Championship since 2006.
Carleton finished sixth at this year’s event, which was held April 27-28 at Villanova University. The Righteous Babes could not continue their success from earlier in the season and finished in sixth place following losses to NYU, Grinnell and eventual national champion Middlebury College.
Three of Carleton’s ultimate frisbee squads are headed to various national championships later this month in Texas. The fields at the 2019 Division III College Championships include representation by Eclipse in the 16-team women’s bracket and GOP (Gods of Plastic) on the similarly sized men’s side. Meanwhile, Syzygy, Carleton’s top women’s ultimate frisbee team, rolled through regionals and earned its 29th all-time trip to the Division I College Championships.
Eclipse garnered one of two D-III nationals bids awarded to women’s teams from the North Central Region. This will be the team’s eighth trip to the national tournament over the last 10 years. Eclipse brought home national titles in 2011, 2016 and 2017 and made the semifinals three other times in this span.
GOP went undefeated at the North Central Regional, knocking off top seed Michigan Tech, 13-7, in the finals. Like Eclipse, GOP returns to the big stage in 2019 for the eighth time in 10 seasons and previously captured Division III crowns in 2010 and 2012 and tied for third on two additional occasions.
The Division III College Championships will be held in Bryan College Station, Texas, on May 18-19. The following weekend, Syzygy will be in Round Rock, Texas, for the Division I College Championships
Syzygy won the D-I national title in 2000, claimed second place four other times and advanced to the semifinals on seven additional occasions. The 2018-19 Syzygy roster includes Nariah-Belle Sims ’21 and Maya Powell ’20, who were both All-Region selections last season.
TRACK & FIELD
Bids to the NCAA Division III Track and Field Championships will not be handed out May 18, but a contingent of Knights are in strong contention. Sophomore Lucas Mueller is currently seeded No. 3 in the country for the 10,000-meter run, while senior Tris Dodge owns the 11th-fastest time in the event. That same duo currently ranks 25th and 36th, respectively, in the 5000-meter run. Meanwhile, Matt Wilkinson holds down the No. 7 spot on the 3000-meter steeplechase leaderboard. Mueller and Wilkinson were All-Americans at both the 2018 NCAA Cross Country and 2019 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships.
For each men’s individual event contested at the NCAA Championships, the top 20 declared student-athletes will be accepted into the competition, while the top 22 declared student-athletes will be accepted into the women’s competition. Currently, Samantha Schnirring and Amanda Mosborg are in the best positions to try to earn spots at nationals.
Schnirring is currently listed at No. 34 on the women’s 10,000-meter run list, and Mosborg sits 41st for the 5000-meter run.