Palmberg qualifies for NAIAs, Pioneers place 3rd at Unaffiliated Tourney
May 6, 2014 at 10:30 p.m. ET
Point Park women's golf placed 3rd of 6 teams at the Unaffiliated Conference Tournament May 5-6. Pictured (L to R): Rilyn Gancia, Chloe Callison, Karina Palmberg (medalist/NAIA qualifier), Emily Slifka and Caroline Collins. Photo by Gabe Bubon.
ATHEN, Ala. -- Point Park University's Karina Palmberg won first place to qualify individually for the NAIA national tournament, and the Pioneers' women's golf team placed third of six teams at the Unaffiliated Conference Women's Golf Tournament (KIAC/RRAC). The two-day was event held May 5-6 at Canebrake Golf Club in Athens, Ala.
The event was made up of four teams from the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and two teams from the Red River Athletic Conference. Neither the KIAC nor the RRAC have the required six teams needed for an NAIA automatic bid, so the the conferences combined on the Unaffiliated Conference Tournament with the team and individual champion qualifying for nationals.
At the end of 36 holes, Point Park's No. 1 player, Palmberg, was the individual champion with rounds of 74 and 79. The senior from Sao Paulo, Brazil, won by four shots over Brescia University's Nicole Burks. Palmberg shot a Point Park-record 74 (+2) in the first round May 5 for a four-shot lead over Burks, who shot rounds of 78-79.
As the tournament champion, Palmberg is an individual qualifier for the NAIA National Championship May 20-23 in Lincoln, Neb. She is the first player in the history of Point Park women's golf to make the national tournament. The Pioneers' program is only in its fifth year and was established in 2009.
Palmberg and Burks were the only players to break 80 both days. Palmberg had a two-day total of 153 (+9), while Burks was four shots back at 157 (+13). Nicki Oesch of Texas-Brownsville shot 80-79 to place third at 159 (+15).
In the team competition, Brescia University took first place with a 15-shot victory over second-place Texas-Brownsville. Brescia, which is from the KIAC, led by 15 after a first-round team score of 336, and maintained the 15-shot lead with a 332 in the final round.
Texas-Brownsville, one of two teams from the RRAC, shot 334-329 for a two-day total of 683. Point Park shot 351 in the first round and was in second place after 18 holes. But the Pioneers dipped back to third with a 362 in the final round.
After Point Park's 36-hole total of 713 placed third was Asbury (Ky.) in fourth place at 714. IU East placed fifth at 862, and St. Thomas (Texas) was last at 941.
For the players that came from the four KIAC schools, there were all-conference honors awarded. Palmberg was named the KIAC Player of the Year as the top finisher overall in the tournament and from the KIAC. The Pioneers had two other players named KIAC All-Conference for high finishes.
Junior Caroline Collins, from West Middlesex, Pa., tied for 12th place to earn All-KIAC honors, as did junior Emily Slifka, a native of Blairsville, Pa., who tied for 14th. Collins opened with a 91 and then shot a strong round of 85 in the final round. Slifka opened with a 90 and cut a stroke off of that score for an 89 on day two.
Slifka was also named the KIAC Comeback Player of the Year after an injury forced her to miss much of last year, including the conference tournament.
Also competing for Point Park was junior Rilyn Gancia, a Monroeville, Pa., native who shot 96-112, and Chloe Callison, a Dayton, Ohio, native who shot 102-109.
In the KIAC standings, Point Park placed second of four teams behind only Brescia. It was the second year in a row that the Pioneers took second place in the conference.
Palmberg's record 74 in the first round including a 1-under 35 on the front nine and bested her own school record of 76 earlier this year as the best 18-hole score by a Point Park women's golfer. With the pressure of the NAIA national tournament on the line, her score rose to 79 in the final round, but she kept the score low enough to win.
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