April 15, 2007
The Eastern Washington University women's golf team will participate in the 2007 Big Sky Conference Championship from April 16-18 at the Palm Valley Golf Club in Goodyear, Ariz., located 20 miles west of Phoenix. The teams played their practice round on Sunday (April 15), while the three regulation rounds will begin each day at 7:15 a.m.
Heading into the tournament, Eastern Washington is leading all Big Sky schools in team scoring average (309.5). Just behind the Eagles are Northern Arizona (311.0) and Sacramento State (314.4). When just spring action is considered, the Eagles are second (311.6) behind Northern Arizona (306.4). In head-to-head meeting with Big Sky teams, the Eagles went 17-4 in 2006-07.
In the GolfWeek.com national rankings, Sacramento State is the highest-ranked Big Sky team (106th). The Hornets are followed by Northern Arizona (117th) and Eastern Washington (122nd).
Chloe Nelson's average round score of 77.0 ranks second of all conference players, trailing Lumberjack Sophia Choi (75.9). Marli Mikulecky is eighth (78.2) and Sheena Prante (79.1) is 14th. When just spring tournaments are looked at, Nelson is seventh (78.7) and Prante is 10th (79.9).
Nelson has been named Co-Big Sky Golfer of the Week twice in 2006-07 (Sept. 13 and March 15), while Mikulecky earned the honors on Sept. 27.
Last season, Montana claimed the championship to break a four-year stranglehold that Portland State had on the title.
The Eagles placed fourth in 2006, while Nelson had the top individual performance for the Eagles, as she finished in a third-place tie. Her score of 223 tied for the 10th-best performance in Big Sky Championship history.
Eastern has never won the title, coming closest with a pair of second-place finishes in 2004 and 2003. The Eagles have placed in the top four each of the past four years after only doing so once in the previous nine seasons.
The eight teams (every Big Sky school with the exception of Northern Colorado, who will be eligible to compete next year) will play on the 72-par 6,165-yard course. On the first day, Katie Kofmehl will tee off at 7:15, Chelsey Lollar will hit her first ball seven minutes later, Mikulecky at 7:30, Prante at 7:37 and Nelson at 7:45.
Comments from head coach Marc Hughes
On the Big Sky Championship: "Like many of the sports in the conference, our conference championship carries more weight than most of the tournaments we've played prior. Whoever wins gets to hang the banner in the gym and move onto the NCAA Regional Tournament. That being said, no one really knows at this point who's going to respond the best next week. It's about focus and execution now and I'm hopeful that we can get down there and be competitive. If we get off to a good start, that will help."
On Eastern's season: "Overall, we've had a good season. We've had to sift through some adversity the last couple of weeks, but I think we've moved beyond that. We've had a good week of practice and the kids are working hard. This year's schedule was the most difficult of any in my nine years here at Eastern. I'm hoping that experience will pay dividends next week. This team is very talented and physically gifted. None of that will matter though if we aren't focused or don't execute for all 54 holes next week. You know the old saying, `if you tell your professor that you are trying your best and working hard, but you still fail the tests, what do you think your grade is going to be'? At some point you have to execute and exert your will. We've proven ourselves against conference opponents and physically we are there. We will find out what our mental capacity is when we tee it on Monday morning."
On the overall mood of the team: "I always look forward to going down to this event. It's a tournament that our team can win and being in the mix is what it's all about. We've had a very difficult spring but I think the kids are ready. They want to be the first women's golf team at Eastern to win the Big Sky Championship. If we play tough-minded golf from the start, we should have a chance on the last day. That's all you can ask for."