There’s nothing quite like making a little program history.
For these University of Dubuque women’s golfers, they have done it twice over.
Daniela Miranda finished with a three-round total of 80-80-79—239 to place third overall, teammate Madison Bowers was right behind in fourth with an 83-76-81—240, and the University of Dubuque women’s golf team captured the American Rivers Conference golf championship on Monday at Ames Golf & Country Club in Ames, Iowa.
Not only was it the first-ever league championship in program history for the Spartans, but it now means the UD women’s golf team will be heading to the NCAA Division III nationals for the first time, held May 13-15 at PGA National in West Palm Beach, Fla.
“It’s a huge accomplishment for our program,” said UD fourth-year coach Dustin Bierman, who was named the A-R-C Coach of the Year. “A year ago at this time, we lost to Central on a one-hole playoff to go to the NCAA Championships. From that point to now, we set a goal and these ladies have worked extremely hard to put themselves back in position again.”
The Spartans finished with a 335-330-320—985 to hold off perennial contender Wartburg’s 1,006. Loras placed eighth with a 1,319.
“This is what we’ve been working for since freshman year, and last year we were so close,” said Miranda, a junior from Woodstock, Ill. “We knew we deserved it, but it just wasn’t meant to be. We have a great team going here and we made it now and we’re beyond happy. We couldn’t thank coach enough. He’s dedicated all his time to get us to where we are now.”
Former Stockton, Ill., prep Megan Gille added an 87-83-80—250 for the Spartans to take ninth place, and Madeline Sturm shot an 87-91-80—258 to place 16th to round out UD’s score.
“It’s a huge deal, especially since it was hard to get over losing by 1 stroke last year,” said Bowers, a sophomore and former Mineral Point prep. “We were very determined to come back and win. We worked really hard all offseason, did what coach said and we finally got it done. It’s an awesome feeling.”
There’s plenty of local flavor in this burgeoning UD program. Along with Bowers and Gille, the roster includes former Dubuque Wahlert standout Mary Edwards and Clayton Ridge all-stater Courtney Olson, both freshmen.
“We’ve slowly built this team to be a championship-caliber program, and we’re very proud of that,” Bierman said. “We challenged them to do something that’s never been done before at UD in the history of the sport, and we’re over the moon about it. It’s hard to put into words.”