Women’s golf enters the history books

Kuehn, Migiaccio and Walsh lead Demon Deacons to first national title in program history


Courtesy of Wake Forest Athletics

The women’s golf team celebrates after winning a national championship.

Sean Kennedy, Assistant Sports Editor

For the Wake Forest women’s golf team, a historic season has concluded with a fairytale ending — the program’s first national championship.

The 16th hole at the Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., set the stage for the most iconic moment in program history, in which senior Lauren Walsh sank a putt to clinch the victory for the Demon Deacons. Walsh defeated University of Southern California’s Brianna Navarrosa in match play to clinch a team win with a final score of 3-1-1.

Walsh dominated the day against Navarrosa, winning the first hole and never looking back. By hole seven, Walsh was up five holes and finished the matchup by the 16th hole.

Before Walsh had her moment, senior Rachel Kuehn led off the day strong against her opponent, the Trojans’ Amari Avery. Kuehn similarly got off to a great start, never trailing for a single moment. Kuehn’s large advantage came in the front half of the back nine, where she expanded her lead from three holes to six by the time her matchup finished at hole 14.

Kuehn, who is also the first woman in program history to earn ACC Women’s Golfer of the Year honors twice in her career, put a ribbon on a spectacular season that saw her secure All-ACC honors and three wins in each of the NCAA Championship playoff rounds (beating Florida State’s Amelia Williamson, Texas A&M’s Hailee Cooper and Avery in consecutive matches).

Since a heartbreaking loss in the 2019 NCAA Championship Finals to Duke, graduate student Emilia Migliaccio has been seeking redemption. With another chance at an NCAA title shot on the line, the two-time All-ACC golfer pulled off a dominant performance against USC’s Cindy Kou, whom Migliaccio defeated by four holes. 

“We’re thrilled to bring a trophy back to Wake Forest University and the community there in Winston-Salem,” said Head Coach Kim Lewellen. “What better way to do it than to have Emilia [Migliaccio] to be sitting beside me and sharing that experience with.”

“It really is an amazing feeling,” Migliaccio added. “It just feels so good to have made my teammates proud. I’m proud of my coaches and everyone in the Wake Forest family who came and watched today who watched on TV. It just feels amazing.”

The only loss on the day for the Demon Deacons occurred in the match between sophomore Carolina Lopez-Chacarra and the Trojans’ Catherine Park. Park won the matchup by three holes, ending at the 17th hole.

Junior Mimi Rhodes did not get to finish her matchup against opponent Christine Wang, as Walsh clinched the championship before their match concluded. Despite this, Rhodes was up two through sixteen holes after being down two at the eighth hole. If Rhodes had tied or won the 16th hole, that would have also clinched the match for the Demon Deacons.

The women’s team, which won a program record of six tournaments this season, has been taken to new heights by Lewellen, who’s in her fourth season at the helm. Since Lewellen’s takeover, she’s led her teams to 22 team titles. In addition, all five women in the final — Kuehn, Walsh, Rhodes, Migliaccio and Lopez-Chacarra — each won All-ACC honors this season.

Wake Forest now becomes the only school with less than 5,500 undergraduate students to win national titles in six different sports — men’s golf, women’s golf, men’s soccer, men’s tennis, baseball and field hockey. The Demon Deacons have 10 overall titles among those sports.