WWU hosts 20th Viking Invitational

WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM Head Coach Bo Stephan
WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM
Head Coach Bo Stephan
WWUVIKINGSDOTCOM

Oct. 2, 2013

BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Western Washington University hosts its 20th Women's Golf Invitational on Monday, Oct. 7 (9 a.m.), and Tuesday, Oct. 8 (9 a.m.), at the Bellingham Golf and Country Club.

The Vikings are looking to capture their 13th title after placing seventh at last year's event. That marked just the second time in 11 years that WWU had not taken top honors.

Defending champion Hawaii Hilo heads a 12-team field. Also competing are Academy of Art, British Columbia, Cal State East Bay, Cal State Monterey Bay, Dixie State, Northwest Nazarene, Saint Martin's, Simon Fraser, Sonoma State and WWU.

Leading the Vikings, who have won the last three Great Northwest Athletic Conference championships, are Anna Bourland (Jr., Bainbridge) and Kristen Hansen (So., Spokane/Mead).

Bourland and Hansen both earned GNAC all-star honors last spring, placing fourth and sixth, respectively, at the conference tournament.

WWU opened its season by placing fourth at the 18-team Western New Mexico University Invitational as Hansen finished third in medalist play and earned GNAC Player of the Week honors.

Also competing for the Vikings, coached by Bo Stephan (7th year), are Brooke Branigan (Fr., Bellingham), Katya Case (Sr., Enumclaw), Emily Koryto (So., East Lansing, MI) and Audrey Orem (Fr., Bellingham).

WWU competes in the Saint Martin's Invitational on Oct. 4-5.

WESTERN WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY

WOMEN'S GOLF INVITATIONAL CHAMPIONS

YEAR TEAM CHAMPION, INDIVIDUAL CHAMPION

2012F Hawaii Hilo, Casara Hong, UBC, 147
2011F Western Washington, Courtney Soekland, CSUMB, 146
      Sonoma State, Deanna Tyndall, CSUEB, 146
2010F Western Washington, Sophie Elstrott, WWU, 147
                          Katie Sharpe, WWU, 147
2009F Western Washington, Cicilia Chudivan, CSUMB, 147
2008F British Columbia, Brittany Carrera, SSU, 152
2007F Western Washington, Jessica McKay, GCU, 147
2006F Western Washington, Catherine Kim, WWU, 229
2005F Western Washington, Katja Trygg WWU 216
2004F Western Washington, Katja Trygg WWU 220
2004S Western Washington, Katja Trygg WWU 227
2003S Western Washington, Kelly White WWU 230
2001F British Columbia, Jill McAuley UBC 151
2000F British Columbia, Kelly Reid UBC 160
1999  Western Washington, Rebecca Barton WWU 164
1998  Western Washington, Misty Wharton LCCC 156
1997  Western Washington, Ginger Welfringer SVCC 173
1996  Lower Columbia CC, Stefanie Coleman GRCC 172
                         Megan Field SFCC
1995  Spokane Falls CC, Megan Thrash SFCC 160
1994  Lower Columbia CC, Nicole Jacobson BCC 156

Consistent Bourland ready to lead WWU

On a Thursday afternoon in late September, Anna Bourland could be soaking up the last few rays of summer sun or enjoying the last week of Western Washington University's summer break.

Instead, she is already focused on golf, putting in some individual practice before the WWU women's golf season kicks off.

"I just finished driving some balls at the range," Bourland said with nonchalance in a phone interview. "I'm about to go do a little bit of work on my short game now."

The dedication Bourland shows, and her consistency in competition, is part of the reason WWU coach Bo Stephan has selected her team captain.

"I think honestly she is the unquestioned leader of the team," Stephan said in a phone interview. "I know I can look to her for all the things you need a responsible leader for."

Western Washington University's women's golf team has won the Great Northwest Athletic Conference the past two years and had the GNAC Player of the Year. Those accomplishments might be considered a success for most teams in the nation, but Stephan has his team wanting more.

After failing to make it to the NCAA Division II West Regional the past two season, the Vikings are focused on getting back to the top of the West Region and being invited to the National Championship tournament.

"Their expectations are high on their own," Stephan said. "What we need is some momentum at the right time."

Momentum was a problem last season for freshman Kristen Hansen. "The commitment and time (were tough to balance)," Hansen, now a sophomore, said in a phone interview. "You want to do well in both golf and school. It was especially hard to come back from not playing during the winter (for the spring season)."

Despite her struggles later in the season, Hansen had a strong fall last year and was named GNAC Freshman of the Year thanks to her 80.8 average.

Bourland had two top-10 finishes and an 81.0 average last season.

Stephan praised Bourland's consistency when other leaders on the team were underperforming.

"She's a quiet leader, but extremely focused," he said. "She carried us for awhile last year when no one else was playing as well."

Also returning for the Vikings are senior Katya Case and sophomore Emily Koryto.

WWU lost two key pieces from last season's squad - Kara Zitzman and GNAC POY Claire Rachor.

To fill the void of losing two top golfers, Stephan recruited Bellingham High School graduates Brooke Branigan and Audrey Orem. The freshman duo has already impressed their team with their hard work ethic.

"We miss the girls from last year, but (the freshmen) are strong players," Bourland said in a phone interview. "It's a smooth transition. They understand the game and are competitive."

The Vikings will look for more consistency as a team this season than it had last year. The team had a strong fall last season but stumbled a bit down the stretch in the spring, Stephan said.

As individuals, each golfer knows what they have to do for the team to succeed.

"My goals are to be able to shoot consistently low and grind out good rounds even when I'm not playing my best," Hansen said.

WWU hosts its home invitational at 9 a.m. Monday-Tuesday, Oct. 7-8, at Bellingham Golf and Country Club.