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Toivonen aids Augustana in NSIC tournament

Augustana (S.D.) freshman and Red Wing native Marisa Toivonen took fourth place at last week's NSIC Championship tournament, helping the Vikings dominate the field en route to a fourth straight NSIC title. Photo courtesy of Augustana Athletic Department

The Augustana (S.D.) women's golf team was up by 50 strokes going into the final two rounds of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Championships last weekend.

With the pressure off, Red Wing native Marisa Toivonen and her teammates still put together a title-worthy performance Saturday and Sunday at Paradise Pointe Golf Club in Smithville, Mo., to pick up the Vikings' fourth consecutive conference championship. Augustana won by 61 strokes over second-place Minnesota State University, Mankato.

The final two rounds were moved from Dacotah Ridge Golf Course in Morton, Minn., to Smithville because of inclement weather, according to the Augustana sports information website.

The first two rounds were played in the fall at The Classic's at Madden's on Gull Lake in Brainerd, Minn.

"It was kind of expected but we still had to play well," Toivonen said. "When we played in Brainerd, it was freezing the whole time. I thought that course was very hard. (In Smithville), it was just super windy, especially the second day. I was just hitting the ball pretty straight. That helped a lot; you don't have to worry about going every way and the wind taking (the ball) every way. It was more scoreable, I thought."

Toivonen, a freshman for the Vikings, had her best round of the tournament on Day 4 as she shot a 75 to finish fourth and earn All-Tournament honors. She shot a four-round total of 324 (81-85-82-75).

"I played really, really well the last day," Toivonen said. "I was pretty excited about that."

The five golfers with the lowest scores are named to the all-tournament team and four of the top five golfers were from Augustana.

"Everyone on the team is super competitive with each other and we're all super good," Toivonen said. "There's not a whole lot of separation between us all. It's really fun seeing who can beat each other."

Allie Ostrander, a junior, was the individual champion with a 25-over-par 313 (75-80-78-80).

The Vikings have now won five conference championships with head coach Peggy Kirby, they were North Central Conference champions in 2007-08, and Toivonen said she is having a great time playing for Augustana in her first season despite the horrible weather conditions.

"It's been a really great experience," she said. "I think I've learned a lot about having a positive attitude and believing you can do it. On the golf side of things, (Kirby) tells us to visualize the shots you'll have. I think that helps a lot, visualizing those short chips exactly where it's going to land. Your body goes along with that."

Next up, Toivonen and the Vikings, second in the Division II Central Region rankings, will head to the NCAA Central Region Tournament May 5-7 in St. Joseph, Mo.

"I think our team's goal is to win the region," Toivonen said. "To win nationals but that's pretty tough. We want to win regionals before that."

Chris Harrell
Chris Harrell is a sports reporter for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he interned at the St. Paul Pioneer Press and The Daily Caller in Washington, D.C. For updates on local sports, follow Chris on Twitter at @RECHarrell.
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