WWU, SFU bring top scores into championships

Mark Strickland

April 17, 2014

PORTLAND, Ore. - With five combined individual golfers in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference top-10, Western Washington and Simon Fraser head into next week's championships as the top men's golf teams in the conference.

The 2013-14 GNAC Men's Golf Championships, set to be played at the Coeur d'Alene Resort in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, run Monday and Tuesday next week. With less than five strokes separating the five teams, the table is set for a competitive three-round men's tournament. Results will be posted online after every nine rounds of play.

Entering the championships with a conference-leading team score of 298.4, Western Washington, which has won the first six GNAC crowns, is coming off a fifth place finish in its most recent competition. The Vikings shot a three-round total of 891 (294-300-297) earlier this week at the Cal State Stanislaus Invitational, finishing in the top tier of the 19-team field.

WWU junior Kyle Schrader earned Red Lion Golfer of the Week honors, after finishing in eighth place at the tournament with a 4-over par 220 (70-76-74). Close behind Schrader in a tie for ninth place was teammate Craig Crawford (221, 73-75-73), who is averaging a score of 72.2 through six rounds of play this season.

Schrader currently ranks tied for third in the GNAC with an average round score of 74.8. Mark Strickland is WWU's other golfer in the GNAC top-10, logging an eighth-best average round score of 75.1 on the 2013-14 season.

Averaging a team score of 299.7, Simon Fraser is the other GNAC team below the 300 mark on the season. Senior Mike Belle is currently pacing the conference with an average round of 73.7, and led SFU with a 13th-place finish at the Cal State Stanislaus Invitational this week (222, 72-72-78). As a team, SFU finished in 11th place at this week's tournament and third among the five GNAC schools competing with a score of 917 (306-297-314).

Bursting onto the scene this season for SFU has been freshman Kevin Vigna, who is tied for the third-lowest score in the GNAC at 74.8. Also in the top-10 for the Clan is Bret Thompson, who checks in tied for eighth with a score of 75.3 per round.

Montana State Billings has posted the third-best team score thus far in 2013-14, with a team average round of 300.1. The Yellowjackets' Gage Huft is tied for third in the conference individually, averaging a score of 74.8 per round. Huft has logged three top-5 finishes, and teammate Brad Harrelson has finished in the top-5 four times in eight competitions this season. Harrelson is in sixth place in the GNAC with an average round of 74.9.

Austin Westphal and Marcus Drange are also in the top-10 for MSUB. Westphal is tied for eighth with a score of 75.3, and Drange is No. 10 at 75.4. The `Jackets finished in 16th place at the Cal State Stanislaus Invitational that ran Monday and Tuesday, with a team score of 939 (311-309-319).

Paced by senior Nick Hardy, Northwest Nazarene is averaging a team score of 301.8 on the 2013-14 season. Individually, Hardy ranks second in the conference with an average score of 74.7, and has four top-10 finishes. Hardy made headlines in the fall of 2013 by winning the Sonoma State Invitational, shooting a 5-under par 211 (74-69-68) on Oct. 14-15.

Michael Delie and Ian Briske have a pair of top-10 tournament finishes each for the Crusaders, and both golfers are averaging a single round score of 75.9. NNU posted a strong finish in this week's tournament, checking in at No. 11 and finishing second among GNAC teams at Cal State Stanislaus at 914 (301-305-308).

In fifth place in the GNAC with a team score of 303.2, Saint Martin's tied for 13th at the CSUS Invitational, with a team score of 920 (298-307-315). Leading the Saints this season have been Patrick Whealdon and Ryan Pickthorn, who are averaging single round scores of 75.7 and 75.8, respectively.

Pickthorn's most notable performance came in early March, as he won the Tim Tierney Pioneer Shootout at Cal State East Bay with a score of 219 (75-68-76).

Freshman Austin Spicer has had a strong debut collegiate season, logging one top-5 finish and averaging a score of 76.3.

Next Week: MSUB, NNU, SMU, SFU and WWU at GNAC Championships, April 21-22, Coeur d'Alene Resort, Coeur d'Alene, ID.

GNAC Championships All-Time Records (Coeur d'Alene Resort)

54-Hole Total - 209, Xavier Dailly, WWU, 70-72-67 (Apr. 19-20, 2010) Single Round - 65, Craig Crawford, WWU (Apr. 23, 2012) 54-Hole Total, Team - 850, Western Washington, 283-293-274 (Apr. 19-20, 2010) Single Round, Team - 274, Western Washington (Apr. 20, 2010)


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