DESTIN, Fla. (May 17, 2013) -- The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor women's golf team outdueled a conference rival and difficult course conditions as the Cru brought home the first NCAA Division III National Championship in school history with an eight-stroke victory at the Division III Women's Golf National Championships Friday in Destin, Florida. The win is just the second national title in UMHB athletic history, joining the women's golf team's 2000 NAIA National Championship.
The Cru finished with a final round total of for a four-day team score of 306-311-311-311=1239 for an eight-stroke victory over American Southwest Conference rival U.T.-Tyler. The Patriots shot 309-308-318-312=1247 to claim second place. Fifteen-time defending national champion Methodist University finished in third place with a 318-313-317-311=1259, George Fox University took fourth place at 319-304-320-324=1267. Williams College rounded out the top five with a 330-304-323-325=1282. Washington-St. Louis finished sixth with an overall total of 1287. Southwestern University was one stroke back with a 1288 to put three Texas programs in the top seven teams. DePauw University finished eighth with a 1290 and Illinois Wesleyan and Centre College tied for ninth place with 1296's. There was a 21-team field and six individuals competing in the tournament.
“I am so proud of my teammates and the way they stepped up this week,” Taylor O’Rear said. “I am so excited. There are no words.”
Taylor O’Rear posted the top individual finish for the UMHB women after shooting a final-round 72. O’Rear’s four day total of 79-75-74-72=300 placed her in third place individually. Elizabeth Davis fired a 75-81-81-80=316 to tie for 15th place, Kelly Gonyea tied for 18th place after posting 76-78-84-79=317, Victoria Thane tied for 26th place after carding a 76-87-75-83=321, Sara Eckert shared 28th place after shooting 84-77-82-79=322. U.T.-Tyler’s Laura Lindsay won the individual championship after firing a 72-77-77-74=295.
Kirby started the program from scratch in 1996 and has since led the Cru to 10 American Southwest Conference championships and 13 postseason appearances, including nine NCAA tournaments. The Cru finished top-five in all of its ten tournaments this season, including victories in the Alamo Classic, Jekyll Island Women’s College Invitational and 2013 American Southwest Conference Women’s Golf Championship. O’Rear had individual victories in the Golfweek Division III Fall Preview, Alamo Classic to go with her second consecutive individual title at the ASC Championship Tournament. Ashley Garbade, Allison Holly and Emily Santos also competed for the Cru this season. UMHB became just the second school to win a national championship since the tournament became solely a Division III competition in 2000.
“I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to coach these girls,” Kirby said. “I could not be more proud of their accomplishment and their efforts this week. This has been a tremendous experience and I am so glad to have been a part of it. To win a national championship in my last season as a coach is something I cannot even describe.”
UMHB took home the NAIA National Championship in 2000 and posted four consecutive runner-up finishes from 2002-2005. The Cru finished sixth in last year’s tournament. Kirby started the program from scratch in 1996 and has since led the Cru to 10 American Southwest Conference championships and 13 postseason appearances, including nine NCAA tournament showings. She made the move to Associate Athletic Director in the fall of 2012 before taking over as the interim head coach for the 2013 season. Kirby was named West Region Coach of the Year and National Coach of the Year this season.