Andy Sneddon, CMUChippewas.com
NAPERVILLE, Ill. -- The Central Michigan golf team shot a 318 team score on Sunday to finish with a 960 total and in ninth place at the Mid-American Conference Championship at Naperville Country Club.
It marked the first time in CMU's four trips to the MAC Championship that it has not finished last in the 10-team field. The Chippewas bettered 10th-place Bowling Green by four shots, and was just 10 strokes behind Ball State and Western Michigan, which tied for sixth.
"You look at where we are in relation to the top five, we're a lot closer," said CMU coach Cheryl Stacy, whose team started Sunday's final round tied with Bowling Green for ninth. "They know now that we can compete with a lot of the teams in the league. That's encouraging. We just have to continue to get better and learn to play under the pressure."
Senior Kristen Wolfe, playing in her final collegiate tournament, shot a 6-over 78 to lead the Chippewas, while freshman Jami Laude posted a 7-over 79.
Wolfe, who opened the tournament with a 78 on Friday, finished with a 238 total and among a group tied for 24th. Laude finished with a 240 total and tied for 28th.
Also for the Chippewas on Sunday, junior Bria Colosky shot 80 and freshman Meghan Deardorff posted an 81. Both finished with a 243 total and tied for 35th. Senior Natalie Johnson shot 83 and finished at 247, alone in 42nd place.
The tournament comprised 50 players.
The previous best individual finish by a Chippewa at the MAC Championship was Johnson's tie for 36th in 2017. Four of the Chippewas bettered that finish at this year's event.
"I feel like we've made great strides," Stacy said. "Having the two freshmen playing in the MAC Championship was a great experience and especially for (Deardorff) since she didn't play as much (tournament golf) in the fall. She came on strong."
Kent State sophomore Pimnipa Panthong shot a 2-under 69 to finish at 8-under 208 to win the tournament. Panthong repeated as the MAC Golfer of the Year. Her 208 total is a MAC Championship record, bettering the 211 posted by Akron's Danielle Nicholson in 2016.
Kent State's Michaela Finn, who last year was the medalist, closed with a 1-under 71 to finish second at 2-under 214.
Kent State posted a 2-under 286 team total to win with a MAC Championship-record 853 total, 57 shots ahead of runner-up Toledo. The Golden Flashes broke the mark they set in 2016, when they finished at 868.