Eagles Head to Arizona, Play for Title
April 20, 2008
The Eastern Washington University women's golf team has had an incredible season and looks to continue its momentum with solid play at the Big Sky Conference Championship, which will take place in Phoenix, Ariz., from Monday-Wednesday (April 21-23). The tournament can be followed on a live basis at www.Golfstat.com.
The Foothills Golf Club is a par-72, 6,131-yard course. The Championship will be a 54-hole affair with 18 played each day. The team champion will earn the Big Sky's automatic berth into the NCAA Regionals, which will be contested from May 8-10 at three different sites: Sacramento, Calif., Austin, Texas, and Athens, Ga. Each day's play will begin at 6:52 a.m. On Monday, the Eastern Washington players will be grouped with Sacramento State's and Weber State's and will start teeing off at 7:30 a.m.
The Eagles enter the competition with a dominating 27-3 record against league foes this season and with the lowest average score (305.9) and highest national ranking of any Big Sky school (55th according to Golfstat.com, as of Monday).
"I expect a very competitive battle this week," head coach Marc Hughes said. "Just because we have the highest ranking going in doesn't mean that anyone is going to lay down for us. At the same time, we aren't going to lay down either. We've worked hard this week and are not taking anything for granted."
Based on average round score, the Eagles are followed in the Big Sky by Northern Arizona (310.9), Sacramento State (316.3), Northern Colorado (318.8), Portland State (319.2), Montana (323.7), Weber State (325.6), Montana State (331.6) and Idaho State (344.6).
"Northern Arizona, Sacramento State, Northern Colorado and Montana are teams that will also play very well at this course," Hughes said. "I think we will be competitive, and my hope is that we have a shot going into the last round. That said, I couldn't be more proud of the team as a whole for their performance this year. They have been a pleasure to work with."
EWU has also added several new entries into the Eagle record book this season (see page 3 for more details) and this year has claimed its first team and individual tournament titles in four years.
In fact, Eastern Washington as a team won two tournaments and, at the second, was victorious in both the individual and the team competitions. That marked the first time EWU has won both at the same event in school history.
Hold the Presses! Another Record Set
The Eastern Washington Eagles have completely rewritten the school record book with its outstanding 2007-08 season.
On March 12, Mikulecky had the best round of play ever seen by an Eastern golfer, when she shot a 67 to finish her play at the UNLV Spring Invitational. She also had a hole in one in that round.
The Eagles as a team shot a 612 at the Aztec Fall Classic from Oct. 15-16 to tie the school mark for lowest score in a two-round tournament.
A fully updated list of school records can be found on page 3.
Two Titles at the Same Time!
For the first time in school history, the Eastern Washington Eagles claimed both individual and team titles at the same tournament, which they did at the Wyoming Cowgirl Classic, played from April 7-8.
Kristina Gargaro claimed the individual title, the first by an Eagle since Kelly Gardner won the Pilot Women's Invitational, which was played from April 5-6, 2004.
Meanwhile, the team title was Eastern's second of the season, as Eastern Washington claimed the MDA Invitational, contested from Sept. 24-25. Prior to that championship, the Eagles last won a team title at the Inland Empire Collegiate from Sept. 25-26, 2003.
Five of the Top 11 Golfers in the Big Sky
Eastern Washington had four players earn All-Big Sky Conference accolades, and a fifth narrowly miss being honored by the league office.
The Big Sky uses Golfstat.com's rankings to determine the honorees (1st-5th earn mention on the first team, 6th-10th on the second).
Eastern Washington had all five of its full-time players ranked in the top 11: Marli Mikulecky (second), Chloe Nelson (third), Kristina Gargaro (fourth), Kellie Holmstedt (ninth) and Chelsey Lollar (11th).
Additionally, the Eagles had the top-ranked freshman, as Gargaro was able to take home the Freshman of the Year award.
Eastern Washington had never previously had as many as three honored by the league office, and Gargaro's Freshman of the Year accolades were the first ever earned by an Eagle.
In fact, the last time any league school had four players earn All-Big Sky accolades was 10 years ago, when Northern Arizona saw four Lumberjacks earn mention following their play in the 1997-98 season.
Now This is What I Call a Balanced Team
The Eastern Washington Eagles have not only earned a Big Sky Conference-record six Golfer of the Week plaques but, incredibly, those six sets of honors have been won by five different players.
To compare, the only other school to have ever won as many as five GOW awards in the same season had the same player win all five (Portland State's Sarah Tiller in 2005).
Kristina Gargaro won the award twice (April 8 and Nov. 1), while Chelsey Lollar (April 2), Marli Mikulecky (March 14), Kellie Holmstedt (Sept. 26) and Chloe Nelson (Sept. 12) earned the honors once apiece.
The Eagles at the Championship
Eastern Washington enters this week's tournament with very impressive credentials at the event the past several years.
The 2007 Championship marked Eastern Washington's fifth-straight top-five finish.
Included in that stretch was a 286 score in the second round of the 2004 Championship, a league record for low round score turned in at the event. The Eagles finished the tournament with an 896, the third-lowest score ever seen at the event. Portland State had an 886, the second-best in Big Sky Championship history, at the same tournament to win that year's title.
The Eagles have also seen a pair of individuals finish in the top 10 at each of those tournaments.
Eastern Washington is looking for its first-ever title. The Eagles are one of just two league schools still looking for its initial championship - first-year participant Northern Colorado is the other.