Feb. 9, 2007
After compiling a 15-1 record against Big Sky Conference competition in the fall, the Eastern Washington University women's golf team resumes its season at the end of February.
The Eagles have been picked to finish second in the coaches poll that was released on Feb. 8. Eastern received three first place votes and was just four total points behind Montana. The defending champion Grizzlies also received three first place votes.
Spring season officially starts on Feb. 26 as Eastern travels to the Copper River Country Club in Fresno, Calif., for the Fresno State Invitational. Fellow Big Sky team Sacramento State will also compete in that tournament.
Eastern will also compete at the UNLV Spring Invitational (March 12-13), University of Oregon Duck Invitational (March 26-27), and the Peg Barnard Invitational (April 6-7) at Stanford, Calif., before competing in the Big Sky Conference Championships (April 16-18) at the Palm Valley Golf Course in Goodyear, Ariz.
"We have a tough spring schedule at Fresno State, UNLV, Oregon and Stanford," said head coach Marc Hughes. "It's the strongest schedule in the conference, so hopefully it will pay off. But this is a good team and the school has a lot to be proud of."
In head-to-head competition against the BSC in the fall, the Eagles were 15-1. The lone loss came to Montana at the Bronco Fall Invitational where the Grizzlies placed sixth (924), and the Eagles were seventh (935).
Individually, sophomore Chloe Nelson led EWU with a 76.17 scoring average in 18 rounds in the fall. Fellow sophomore Marli Mikulecky was second on the team with a 76.67 average. Nelson and Mikulecky were named to the 2006-07 All-Big Sky first team by Golfweek.com after the fall season.
"The team is very good," added Hughes. "I am excited to see how they do. We are stronger than we were last year, we have more depth. The two best players are sophomores (Nelson and Mikulecky) and that says a lot for the program."
Besides Montana and Eastern, Sacramento State received two first place votes in the preseason poll and is just one point behind the Eagles in third. Northern Arizona, Portland State and Montana State own the next three positions.
"I think the conference is wide open." Hughes said. "Montana is strong, Northern Arizona is strong, Sacramento State is strong, Montana State is stronger and I think it is wide open. The Championship is played on a course that everyone knows and we play on it every year. I don't think there is one clear favorite. For us it's about getting better, and hopefully we improve."
Nelson finished in a tie for third at last year's Big Sky Conference Championships. Her finish was the second highest in school history. She had rounds of 75, 75 and 73, for a seven-over-par total of 223 on the par 72 course.
In the individual rankings after fall play in the BSC, Nelson is ranked third behind Krista Swanson and Jill Walker of Montana. Mikulecky is ranked fifth.
"Chloe has established herself as one of the best players in the conference." said Hughes. "She is currently ranked third in the Big Sky after fall play. She is in line for all-conference honors right now before we even get to the championships. I expect her to continue along those lines. She is very solid."
As a team, the Eagles finished fourth at the BSC Championships last year with rounds of 307, 314, and 297 for a three-day total score of 918.
"I expect Eva to improve." Hughes said. "As a team that is our goal. We aren't talking about winning, but just about improving. We would like to improve upon our finish from last year."
"Fall season was okay." added Hughes. "We started out really strong and didn't finish as strong. We had some strong individual performances in between. Based on our fall results, we should at least be competitive at conference. I wasn't as sure of that last year at this point."
2007 Women's Golf Preseason Poll
Montana - 58 (3 first place votes)
Eastern Washington - 54 (3 first place votes)
Sacramento State - 53 (2 first place votes)
Northern Arizona - 47 (1 first place vote)
Portland State - 37
Montana State - 26
Weber State - 22
Northern Colorado - 19
Idaho State - 7