Conference golf season culminates in Oregon

Pirate men punch team ticket to the Division III National Championships

by Sasha Siclait and Korey Hope

Men’s Golf

The men’s golf team competed this weekend in Woodburn, Ore., at the NWC Championship taking the conference title and will advance to compete  in the national tournament.

After day one of the tournament, Whitworth came in second with a score of 297, behind Linfield’s 295. This is a solid ranking season for Whitworth as they are now ranked No. 21 nationally in NCAA Division III.

“The course had a lot of holes in the grain, but overall we all played really well,” junior Stephen Plopper said. “We put ourselves in good position and we all played at a consistent pace.”

Plopper was Whitworth’s leading scorer for day one with a 72 and even par. He was in a four way tie for the second place player amongst all of the nine teams in the tournament. Plopper averages a 77.3 and five over par for the season.

Freshman Lyle Rudnicki was Whitworth’s second leading scorer on day one with a 74 and plus two over par and senior Joey DeGroff said Rudnicki’s short game was “unreal.”

In second place and only two shots back after day one, the men’s golf team set themselves up in a good position for round two of the two-day tournament.

“Going into the first round we wanted to put up solid scores to put ourselves in the running, take some pressure off us in the next round to just follow,” freshman Oliver Rudnicki said.

Sunday, the men’s golf team beat Linfield out for the first place spot by five with a total score of 593.

Lyle Rudnicki was Whitworth’s leading scorer for day two and had a total of 74 and four over par.

“I think we came out on fire and did what we needed to do,” DeGroff said. “We played our game and didn’t concentrate on how other teams were doing. We just focused on things that we could control.”

Overall, multiple players said the team met their goal of winning conference and making it to nationals. Whitworth has an average score of 76.41 and is ranked No. 13 for Division III schools on golfstat.com.

Five of the 12 players who made first and second team all league are from Whitworth. Junior Jesse Salzwedel and Lyle Rudnicki both made First Team All- NWC and DeGroff, Plopper and Oliver Rudnicki made Second Team All-NWC.

“The team played very consistent and we got contributions from all five players,” head coach Warren Friedrichs said. “It was really a just a team conference win.”

Whitworth will be going to Destin, Fla., to compete in the National Championships for NCAA Division III May 14-17.

“We had a great season, a lot of fun and a hard working team and they deserved it,” Friedrichs said.

Women’s Golf

The Whitworth Women’s golf team took third at the Northwest Conference Championships at OGA Golf Course in Woodburn, Ore., last weekend. While third is not high enough to advance into the national tournament as a team, three Pirates came home with top 10 finishes in the 38-golfer field.

Senior Emily Guthrie shot a seven-over par 79 on day one and a nine-over par 81 on day two to finish second overall. She finished behind George Fox senior Kelsey Morrison, who carded rounds of 75 and 77 for an eight-over par weekend.

It was Guthrie’s last conference-play round of her career, but may not be her last round in general. Guthrie could receive a invitation to compete in the national tournament as an individual with her performance this season. She finished 12th at the weather-shortened NWC Spring Classic, which was her worst showing of the season. Guthrie finished no worse than fourth place in any other match on the year.

Freshman Chelsea Bayley was the next highest finisher for the Pirates, coming home in seventh place overall. After a 15-over par 87 on day one, Bayley finished with a much lower five-over par 77 on Sunday. The freshman’s top 10 finish was her third of the year, after finishing ninth at the Ohana Classic in Hawaii and taking first overall at the NWC Spring Classic earlier this month.

Sophomore Nicole Lomax was the third top 10 finisher for the Bucs, coming in just behind Bayley, tying for eighth place. Lomax played only one match before the NWC Championships, according to the Whitworth athletics website. It was the dual meet against Community Colleges of Spokane on April 13th, when she shot a 12-over par in the one-round match. Lomax showed no sign of inexperience last weekend, starting off Saturday with an eight-over par 80 and finishing the tournament with a 13-over round of 85.

Freshman Yvonne LaCoursiere was the fourth and final Whitworth golfer, coming home tied for 26th and carding rounds of 89 and 95. This was slightly uncharacteristic of LaCoursiere; both rounds exceeded her average round mark on the year.

Bayley and LaCoursiere both golfed in 10 matches this year, which led the squad. And with Guthrie the only senior on the team (Emily Travis has junior eligibility), the Whitworth women’s golf team will return next season with more experience and few new faces.

Check whitworthpirates.com in the coming weeks for updates on Emily Guthrie’s national tournament fate.

Contact Sasha Siclait and Korey Hope at sssiclait16@my.whitworth.edu and khope16@my.whitworth.edu

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