BELLINGHAM, Wash. – The Western Washington University Women’s Golf team will open the 2016-17 season Monday and Tuesday at the Western New Mexico Fall Intercollegiate played at the Golf Club of Estrella in Goodyear, Arizona.
The Vikings return five of six players from last year’s team that advanced to the NCAA II West/South Central Super Regional, including back-to-back Great Northwest Athletic Conference co-Player of the Year Jenn Paul (Bellingham, WA).
Also returning for the Vikings are senior co-captains Audrey Orem (Bellingham, WA) and Brooke Branigan (Bellingham, WA), sophomores Hannah Drake (Pocatello, ID/Century) and Stephanie Sewell (Kent, WA/Kentridge) and junior college transfer Nicole Miller (So., Renton, WA/Kennedy/North Idaho College).
“The team is excited to get the season underway,” said 12th-year head coach Bo Stephan. “The first tournament is always a great opportunity to set a good tone for the season as well as evaluate all the players readiness for the rest of the fall season.”
The 36-hole tournament - 18 holes each Monday and Tuesday - will be played at the 6,087-yard par 72 layout at the Golf Club of Estrella. The Vikings also opened last season at the WNMU Fall Intercollegiate, placing third out of 20 teams with a 2-under-par total in the tournament (played at Goldwater Golf Club).
WWU had its string of five consecutive GNAC team championships snapped finishing second last season, but advanced to the NCAA II Championships for the first time since 2011.
THE STARTING FIVE…the WWU starting lineup for the WNMU Fall Intercollegiate will feature the following five players…the first round of the tournament will begin with a 7:30 am shotgun start on holes with WWU players teeing off on holes 16, 17 and 18:
THE COMPETITION…the Western New Mexico Fall Intercollegiate features a field of 20 schools participating in the two-day, 36-hole tournament…along with WWU and tournament host Western New Mexico, other schools competing include: Dixie State, MSU Denver, Midwestern State, Regis, California Baptist, Holy Names, Montana State Billings, Point Loma, Saint Mary’s (TX), Chico State, Fort Lewis College, Colorado Mesa, Mesa Community College, University of Redlands, West Texas A&M, Cal State San Marcos and Tarleton State…California Baptist is the reigning tournament champion after shooting a two-round total of 567 last year.
TOURNAMENT SITE…the Golf Club of Estrella will serve as the tournament site for the WNMU Fall Intercollegiate…situated 30 minutes west of downtown Phoenix, this spectacular desert golf course, nestled in the master-planned community of Estrella, features challenging play in the midst of breathtaking beauty…this dramatic course of Nicklaus Design, with Jack Nicklaus ll as the primary designer, flows along the contours of the land, allowing washes and hillsides to remain in a pristine state. Golf Club of Estrella, consistently ranked by Golfweek magazine as one of the Top-Twenty Public Courses in Arizona is the ideal venue for tournament groups, charity events and corporate outings…the course will play to a par 72 and 6,087 yards for the two-day tournament.
HOW TO FOLLOW…the two-day, 36-hole tournament can be tracked via Live Results on GolfStat.com.
UP NEXT…following the season-opening tournament in the Valley of the Sun, the Vikings will take next week off…the next tournament will be October 7-8 (Friday-Saturday) at the Saint Martin’s Invitational at Olympia Golf & Country Club…the Vikings will then host the annual WWU Invitational October 10-11 at Bellingham Golf & Country Club.
THE FALL SCHEDULE…the women’s golf schedule for the fall includes the following tournaments, including the annual WWU Invitational hosted by the Vikings at Bellingham Golf and Country Club October 10-11:
- Oct. 7-8: Saint Martin’s Invitational (Olympia Country Club)
- Oct. 10-11: WWU Invitational (Bellingham Golf and Country Club)
- Oct. 17-18: Sonoma State Fall Invitational (Rohnert park, CA/Foxtail North Golf Club)
- Oct. 24-15: Dennis Rose Intercollegiate (Waikoloa, HI/Waikoloa Kings Course)
THE SPRING SEASON…the spring schedule is still being finalized…the GNAC Championships will be held April 24-25 at Coeur d’Alene Resort…the NCAA II West/South Central Super Regional will be May 8-10 at Wichita Falls Country Club (Wichita Falls, TX) and the NCAA II Championships will be held May 17-20 at Findlay Country Club (Findlay, OH).
2015-16 SEASON IN REVIEW…Advanced to the NCAA II West/South Central Regional placing 9th out of 12 teams…were the No. 8 seed in the Super Regional played at Brookside Country Club in Stockton, Calif….first time to advance to the NCAA II regionals since 2011…ranked No. 23 in the final GolfStat Division II rankings…placed 2nd at the GNAC Tournament snapping a string of five consecutive conference titles…finished the 36-hole tournament at 57-over-par (625) at Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course…sophomore Jenn Paul was named the GNAC co-Player of the Year for the second straight year and was an WGCA All-West Region selection…led the GNAC with a 75.4 scoring average and finished in the top 10 in 7 of her 9 tournament appearances…final scoring average of 75.47 finished 2nd in the WWU record books trailing only Katja Trygg in 2006 (75.44)…Paul’s 75.89 career scoring average (38 rounds) is currently the best in program history ahead of Trygg (78.48 in 90 rounds)…in the GolfStat final rankings was 10th in the region and 33rd in NCAA II…was the individual medalist at the Tim Tierney Pioneer Shootout (March 7-8) posting a 36-hole score of 1-under-par 143…became the first Viking to win a regular season tournament since Claire Rachor in 2011 at the Sonoma State Invitational and the fifth player in program history to finish a tournament under par, also joining Kristen Hansen (-1) and Brooke Branigan (-2) at the WNMU Fall Invitational Sept. 21-22 in Avondale, AZ…prior to this season only Sophie Elstrott at the Grand Canyon Fall Invitational, Sept. 27-28, 2010 at Coldwater Creek Golf Club in Goodyear, Ariz. (1-under par 143) and All-American Katja Trygg (twice in 2005) completed a tournament with score under par…Paul was the highest placing Viking at the GNAC Championships tying for 3rd place…all six team members ranked amongst the top 10 of GNAC scoring leaders…also led the GNAC with a team scoring average of 305.5…Branigan (WNMU Fall Intercollegiate, 2nd round) and Paul (Tim Tierney Pioneer Shootout, 2nd round) turned in GNAC low rounds of 69, tying the lowest rounds in WWU history (6th time)…freshman Hannah Drake turned in the best performance at the NCAA II West/South Central Super Region finishing tied for 18th (+7, 223)…senior Kristen Hansen earned first-team All-GNAC honors for the fourth time in her career…she ended her career with a school record 135 birdies, breaking the old mark of 128 by Rachor (2010-13)…junior Audrey Orem was a first-team All-GNAC selection after garnering second-team honors as a freshman and sophomore…team earned back-to-back second-place finishes at the Tim Tierney Pioneer Shootout (March 7-8) and Otter Invitational (March 21-22)…posted the lowest round in program history with a 3-under-par 285 in the second round of the WNMU Fall Intercollegiate at Goldwater Golf Club in Avondale, AZ…finished at 2-under-par (574) in the 36-hole WNMU Fall Intercollegiate, the first time in program history to finish with a team score under par…finished the season with an average score of 306.9 (18.95 above par average), breaking the school record (312.04, +22.60 in 2005-06).
THE HEAD COACH…Bo Stephan begins his 12th season at the helm of the WWU women’s golf program…Stephan is a four-time GNAC Coach of the Year (2011, 2012, 2014, 2015)…led WWU to the GNAC Tournament Championships title in five consecutive seasons from 2011-2015 (2nd place in 2016)…coached the GNAC scoring average leader each season since 2011…guided Vikings to the NCAA West Regional in 7 of 11 seasons…Vikings placed 5th at NCAA Division II National Championships in 2006, 6th place in 2008 and 11th place in 2011…was an assistant for the women’s squad in 2005, and the men’s team in 2003 and 2004…four-year letterwinner for Vikings (1999-2002) where he recorded a 75.52 scoring average in 44 career tournaments.
THE NEW COACH…a familiar face to WWU women’s golf followers, Kristen Hansen remains with the program as a graduate assistant coach…Hansen was a four-time GNAC All-Star and was the 2015 GNAC Championships individual medalist…the Spokane native played in 38 career tournaments with a scoring average of 78.63, fourth-best in program history.
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