Women's Golf Rises in Regional Rankings
News Release Date:
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Rising to the number four spot in the NCAA Division III regional rankings, the Whitman College women’s golf team finished its fall season poised to make a run at a berth in the national championships next spring.
The fall season saw the Missionaries set several school records, collectively and individually, and steadily rise in the national rankings compiled by Golfstats, which administers computer ratings and rankings used by NCAA national championship selection committees.
As a team, the Whitman women finished the fall with a No. 12 national ranking in stroke average for DIII teams. With a scoring average of 81.95, the Missionaries narrowly trail conference rival George Fox, ranked No. 11 with an 81.90 stroke average.
On an individual basis, Katie Zajicek is ranked No. 13 nationally, averaging 78.0 per round. Only Kelsey Morrison of George Fox -- at No. 9 with a stroke average of 77.30 -- is ranked ahead of Zajicek in the West region.
Whitman wrapped up the fall in second place in the Northwest Conference. The Missionaries finished 13 strokes behind George Fox at the Fall Classic while beating third-place Willamette by 33 strokes.
Earlier in the season, Whitman won its own tournament in Walla Walla with a 25-shot victory over Whitworth in a six-team field.
Twice named the NWC player of the Week this fall, Zajicek set school records for both tournament and individual round scores.
At the Whitman Invitational, Zajicek’s 74 at Veteran’s Memorial Golf Course followed by her 75 at Wine Valley Golf Club set a tournament school record of 149 for a two-day total. That also gave her a seven-shot victory over her nearest competitor.
A week later, Zajicek set the single-round school record, recording an even-par 72 in a one-day invitational hosted by Concordia University at Heron Lakes in Portland. In that tournament, she edged one of Concordia’s top players by one shot for medalist honors.
Zajicek had plenty of help from her teammates this fall.
First-year player Sarah Debs and sophomore Catelyn Webber finished the fall season with eight-round stroke averages of 81.50 and 81.75, respectively. Both recorded low rounds of 79, with Webber’s best effort coming in the final round of the NWC Fall Classic.
Tate Head, a junior, finished third in the Fall Classic with rounds of 75-80 for a 155 total. Her stroke average for the fall was 82.25.
Another Missionary posting a competitive round in the 70s was junior Elaine Whaley, whose 79 at the Whitman Invitational helped her record an 84.0 stroke average.
Kelly Sweeney, another of Whitman's first-year players, opened the season as team medalist with an 80 at the Wildhorse Golf Course and finished the fall averaging 84.3. Caitlin Holland, a junior who ended the 2011 spring season with Whitman's second-best stroke average, finished the fall at 88.6 per round.
With a roster of two juniors, three sophomores and two freshmen, coach Skip Molitor is excited and optimistic about his team's opportunity to make their mark on the national scene.
"Our performance this fall was very encouraging," he said. "Our team goal was to string together consecutive rounds of 324 (top four players) or better, which represents a very solid team score of 36 over par on a par-72 course.
"Our last five rounds of the fall were 313, 320, 317, 320 and 318. That is a stroke average of 79.4 over those five rounds."
Only two teams in the nation, Molitor said, posted a lower stroke average over the course of the entire fall.
"As impressive as our scores were, I was more proud of the way our ladies handled the week-to-week competition for spots in the tournaments," he said.
"They did an outstanding job of supporting each other and having great team camaraderie while competing fiercely for roster spots. That bodes well for the challenges that we face this spring."
The Missionaries resume their season in March and April with the NWC Championships set for Columbia Point in Richland, Wash.
The NWC champion gets an automatic berth at the NCAA national championships, set Angola, Ind., May 8-11.
An at-large berth is a possibility for the NWC’s second-place team.
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CONTACT: Dave Holden
Sports Information Director
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
509 527-5902; firstname.lastname@example.org