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Florida Southern and Gartrell Take Runner-Up Spots at Saint Leo Invitational

Amanda Gartrell
Amanda Gartrell

SAINT LEO, FL – With individual runner-up Amanda Gartrell shooting a second-round 71, and all five golfers in the 70s for the second day in a row, 5th-ranked Florida Southern finished the 2018 Saint Leo Invitational tied with No. 3 Nova Southeastern for second place, finishing three shots behind No. 4 Barry. It's the fourth straight tournament in which Florida Southern has been the runner-up.

The two-round, nine-team tournament had a top-heavy field with five of the top 14 teams in the most recent NCAA Division II women's golf poll participating. With Barry, Florida Southern, and Nova Southeastern 1-2-3 in the final standings, Tampa was fourth, finishing nine shots off the pace, and the Spartans had the individual champion in Kiira Riihijarvi.

Riihijarvi used rounds of 68 and 70 to shoot a six-under-par 138 and finish six shots ahead of Gartrell. Florida Southern's junior All-American had rounds of 73 and 71 and started the day in a tie for sixth but moved up the standings with a pair of birdies in the early going Tuesday that had her at one-under at the turn. She then birdied 10 and 11, dropping to three-under for the day and two-under for the tournament, but could get no closer to Riihijarvi, who was playing one group behind Gartrell on the course and had also turned at -1. It marked the best finish of Gartrell's career to date, and the ninth time she has placed in the top-five of a tournament.

The runner-up showing by Gartrell also gave Florida Southern its fourth individual top-five this season, with at least one in every tournament. Tori Higgins and Loren Perez were on that list prior to Tuesday, and the Moccasins nearly had another one by the end of the day.

One of the players Gartrell jumped in the individual standings was Florida Southern teammate Ashley Zagers, who had been tied for second at the start of the round. Zagers shot a 77 Tuesday after stumbling a bit on the first five holes but still tied for seventh overall with a 148 (+4). It was the sixth top-10 finish of her career.

Perez gave Florida Southern another 77, and was the Moccasins' top golfer on the back nine where she was two-under. That lifted her into a tie for 12th place with a two-day total of 151 (+7). Nathalie Svensson had a strong back nine too and was one-under for the final six holes to finish tied for 18th with a 153 (+9). Her 76 on Tuesday was the Mocs' second lowest score.

Higgins shot a 78 in the round and tied for 25th with a total score of 155 (+11). That put all five golfers in the lineup in the 70s once again and made Florida Southern the only team to accomplish that in both rounds. Barry, Tampa, and Stetson all had an 80 from their fifth golfers on Monday, and Nova Southeastern had an 81 from its number five on Monday as well.

Playing in the tournament as an individual was Hanna Rizzolo, who had rounds of 78 and 79 to tie for 36th place with a 157. Madi Wetzel, who played on Monday, withdrew before the start of Tuesday's round.

Florida Southern's next tournament is Monday and Tuesday, November 5-6 in Orlando at the Rollins Legends Invitational. That will mark the end of the fall portion of the schedule for the Moccasins.