AMES — This Saturday before a crowd of 60,000 at Jack Trice Stadium, Iowa State University women’s golfer Celia Barquin Arozamena was to be honored as female athlete of the year.
“There are going to be so many tears at this game. I can’t believe this, this is such an honor,” she texted to the women’s golf coach last week.
Monday morning, authorities acting on a 911 call found her abandoned golf bag and later her body near Hole 9 at Coldwater Golf Links, south of the campus.
Ames investigators believe she was golfing alone when she was attacked by Collin Daniel Richards, 22, who was located near a homeless encampment in woods not far from the course by a sheriff’s dog tracking a scent.
A man interviewed by police during the search told of an acquaintance — Richards — who had talked of an urge to “rape and kill women.”
Police said the victim had been assaulted and stabbed in the upper torso, head and neck.
Richards was arrested and booked into the Story County Jail, ordered Tuesday held on the first-degree murder charge on a $5 million cash-only bail.
Within the wooded area, officers located a black backpack with two pairs of black shorts with stains that tested positive for human blood. A knife also was recovered there.
Police said they have had run-ins with Richards before.
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
“Still very troubling that something like this would happen in broad daylight in a community that is as safe as Ames is,” said Ames police Cmdr. Geoff Huff. “So it’s troubling for all of us that this happened.”
Barquin Arozamena, the 2018 Big 12 champion, finished her NCAA career during the 2017-18 school year and was completing her civil engineering degree.
One of the best players in ISU golfing history, she was the career leader in scoring average (73.44), had five top-10 finishes and 78 birdies.
Her death brought reaction and remembrances not only from Iowa, but from far away — and from her favorite professional golfer.
“I had the pleasure of meeting her and I know she was a special person. Sending my thoughts and prayers to her family and loved ones in this difficult time,” tweeted Sergio Garcia.
ISU athletic director Jamie Pollard said Barquin Arozamena’s legacy isn’t defined yet. But he doesn’t want it defined as the woman who was killed golfing — but instead by her lasting impact on those she knew.
ISU will honor her about 10 minutes before kick off Saturday.
“What I hope we can do is use Saturday as a wonderful platform to help all of us — the community, the institution, our athletics program and especially those young ladies on the team and the coaching staff to begin the healing process,” Pollard said.
“We have an incredible opportunity on Saturday to honor Celia for the award that she rightfully earned, but also for the Cyclone fans to do what I know they do really, really well — they pick each other up.”
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
Thank you for signing up for our e-newsletter!
You should start receiving the e-newsletters within a couple days.
ISU women’s golf coach Christie Martens wasn’t planning to address the media Tuesday, but nonetheless wanted people to know who the Puente San Miguel, Spain, native was.
“Celia has so much pride in competing for Iowa State,” Martens said. “Iowa State was a really, really, really special place to her. It meant so much to her every time she went out on the course for us. It meant the world to her. Winning the Big 12 Championship for our team meant so much to her because she was doing for Iowa State.”
When Martens was recruiting Barquin Arozamena, Martens met with her and her family at a tournament in France.
“Her mom and I just hit it off right away,” Martens said. “We got along great and her mom said, ‘I trust you. I want my daughter to go to Iowa State.’ That was a lot of trust that she put in me and I don’t take that trust lightly.”
Ames police called the family Monday to tell them of their daughter’s death. Tuesday morning, Martens called them.
“Calling her mom was very hard,” Martens said. “But I guess the thing that meant the most to me was that she said, ‘Celia was happy every day that she was there. Even though all of this has happened, if we had to decide all of this all over again, we would still send her to Iowa State.’ That meant a lot.”
It was announced Tuesday that ISU’s women’s golf team would withdraw from competition at the East & West Match Play in Ann Arbor, Mich., to mourn the death. The Cyclones were scheduled to face the University of California-Davis in the finals.
“This is a tragic and senseless loss of a talented young woman and an acclaimed student-athlete,” ISU President Wendy Wintersteen said in a statement. “We mourn with her family and friends in Spain, her teammates here and all who knew her.”
Dylan Montz of the Ames Tribune contributed to this report.