Women Golfers Primed for Run at NWC Title
WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Optimism is running high for members of the Whitman Women's golf team as they enter the spring portion of their season; and well it should, as the defending Northwest Conference tournament champions of 2012 reside just one point out of first place with the second-half of the season set to begin this Saturday at the College of Idaho Invite.
Coach Skip Molitor
After taking home the NWC crown for the first time in school history and finishing 12th at the National tourney, notching the Missionaries a No. 16 ranking at seasons end, Whitman finished second to George Fox at the Fall Classic, placing them in prime position to control their own destiny at the NWC Championships this spring.
Taylor Head '13
"We have perhaps the best length in the conference" says Coach Skip Molitor. "And that gives us a decided advantage." Molitor adds, "Our best golf is clearly ahead of us with this team because of their commitment to improve. Also, our experience at the National Finals -- the first appearance by a Whitman team in school history -- gave them, I think, the desire to really get back there and play well, as evidenced by their commitment to off-season conditioning."
The squad returns a bevy of First and Second Team All-Conference performers, including two All-Region selections, to field one of the most solid line-ups in the region. The Missionaries are led by their two senior co-captains Taylor Head (Bellingham, WA) and Caitlin Holland (Edgewood, WA).
Caitlin Holland '13
Head received All-Region and First-Team NWC honors after finishing 3rd at the conference championships, posting rounds of 77 and 78. She also posted a two-round total of 155 at the Fall Classic. “She just has a very solid all-around game”, says Molitor of Head. “Her swing is arguably our most sound technically and she leads us in greens in regulation.”
Catelyn Webber '14
After ranking second in stroke average for the Whits her sophomore spring season, Holland is trying to regain her form after a challenging junior season. Just as important as her tee-to-green performance, is Holland's leadership attributes. "Caitlin really keeps us grounded mentally", notes Molitor. "She has really worked hard to get back to playing in the majors (the Classics and the NWC tournament)." Holland has very impressive length off the tee.
Katie Zajicek '14
The three juniors look to play a major role in the Missionaries' success. Catelyn Webber (Bellevue, WA), named to the 1st Team All-Conference last season, is Whitman's most consistent scorer, according to Molitor. After posting low two-round scores of 157 at the NWC tourney and 158 at the Spring Classic, Webber shot the team's third lowest single-round at Nationals -- a 76. Although long off the tee, like many of the Whits, Webber does the most damage with her irons. “She has a great ability to knock her irons right at the flag” notes Molitor. “Catelyn is extremely consistent. It’s remarkable how many rounds she will shoot between 78 and 82.” Webber also coordinates the team's fitness regimen, becoming a certified fitness trainer recently.
Junior Katie Zajicek (Corvalis, OR) received All-Region accolades last season after a magnificent fall campaign in which she finished in the top 10 nationally in stroke average -- 78 per round -- and a victory at the Whitman Invitational, carding 74 and 75 for a new two-round school record 149. A week later at the Fall Preview, Zajicek shot the first even-par round in program history when she recorded a 72. She wrapped up the season by posting a 74 on the last day of the Nationals, putting her near the top of the leader board. "When you look at driving, iron play and short game", says Molitor. “Katie's game ranks towards the top of the conference."
Elaine Whaley '14
Rounding out the junior class is 2nd Team NWC player Elaine Whaley (Spokane, WA). Another big hitter with the driver, the former Gonzaga Prep star carded a final round 76 at the conference championships that extended the lead over George Fox at a critical time. "She has a little Phil Mickelson in her game", quips Molitor. "She's a streaky player and when she gets it going, she is really fun to watch." After missing the fall season with a wrist injury, Whaley is excited to get back and play a major role for the Whits, says Molitor. "It will be nice to have Elaine's work ethic pay dividends for us this spring."
Kelly Sweeney '15
Talented sophomore Kelly Sweeney (Enumclaw, WA) led the team this fall in stroke average (81.1 per round) following a First Year campaign that saw her make 2nd Team NWC and shoot an opening round 73 at Nationals, placing her in 2nd after the first day. Sweeney placed 5th at the conference championships, thanks in part to her excellent short game. "Kelly is perhaps are most driven player", observes Molitor. "She has 1st Team All-American honors in her sights, demonstrated by her comfort level when she was in contention at the NCAA tournament."
Two sport athlete Alyssa Maine (Spokane, WA) is the lone First Year player on the team. At the time of posting this story, Maine is still fulfilling her role as a point-guard on Whitman's NCAA tournament basketball squad. Brimming with potential, according to Molitor, Maine showed a glimpse of her golfing future when she pared 11 of the last 12 holes to post a 79 this at the Whitworth Invite. As a sophomore in high school, she finished second in the state tournament, falling shy by just one stroke to Kelly Bowers who now stars for the University of Washington.
Alyssa Maine '16
Like all good teams, this year’s Missionaries have outstanding team chemistry, says Molitor. “One of the things that is very impressive about this group is how competitive they are on the course with each other and how close they are off the course. They have balanced that in an outstanding manner. They have a great way of bringing out the best in each other.”
As the team is readying for its run at the championship, Molitor points out something very special about this year’s group. “This is the first team whose senior class came to Whitman with the intent to play collegiate golf . . . these are players recruited by this program. That’s exciting, in itself and is a primary reason why we're playing in Hawaii in March”.
For the complete spring golf schedule visit http://www.whitman.edu/whitman-athletics/womens-golf/schedule-and-results
The 2012 - 2013 Whitman Women's Golf Team
Whitman Sports Information Director