The Eastern Washington women’s golf team is off to another good start after ranking at the top in Big Sky Conference tournament play last year. The Eagles finished fourth place in the ’08-’09 Bulldogs and Eagles Invitational last weekend in Post Falls, Idaho, where Portland State claimed top slot.
“Last year we won it, so obviously we’re a little disappointed. We were missing one of our strong players, Kellie [Holmstedt] – she was out with mono,” said senior Marli Mikulecky from Osoyoos, B.C.
Two Eastern players finished in the top 10 last week: senior Chloe Nelson placed fourth in a stalemate (229) and sophomore Kristina Gargaro finished in eighth place (231). Other notable performances were Mikulecky’s 13th-place finish (233), and Kylie Ray and Ines Pantoli who finished 40th and 44th, respectively.
“It was kind of just a go in there, get your feet wet kind of thing – get a feel for playing 36 again and getting prepared for the field and competition for the rest of the year,” said Gargaro.
“I’ve got a veteran team that is very good and we will improve as the year goes on. They work hard and they will be competitive,” said coach Marc Hughes. The team has lost only one player from last year.
All remaining scheduled games are on the road, making it difficult for people to attend. A team concern seems to be that many people do not realize that there is a women’s golf team at Eastern and that they would like to be more well-known. “We don’t really get a lot of students. We have a lot of parents,” said Gargaro about match attendance.
Head Coach Marc Hughes does all the recruiting for the team, obtaining players as far away as Canada (Mikulecky and Gargaro) and France (Pantoli), although his recruitment is generally within the United States and largely from around the northwest region. He is a member of the Professional Golfers Association and has written a blog for Golf Week magazine.
The culmination of all the hard work and effort is a great team, and what Mikulecky describes as somewhat of a “family, because you’re on the road with each other for a month to two months straight.” She sees it as a brotherly/sisterly love involved.
Mikulecky said, “Our goal is to hang a banner over Reese Court this year.” If their dream comes true, this women’s golf team will set an unprecedented bar for the school and advance to the NCAA tournament at the end of the year.
As motivation for their ultimate goal, Hughes has made a deal with the team that if they advance to regionals this year, he will wear a pink sleeveless shirt and Capri pants during the games. He said it is for motivation and all in fun – “It’s about being as competitive as I possibly can.”
The Eagles are currently preparing for their next tournament in Broomfields, Colo., where they will play in the CU Heather Farr Memorial Invitational at the Omni Interlocken Resort Golf Club Sept. 29-30. Upon completion of this tournament, they will move on to play in the last two of their four scheduled consecutive weeks in tournaments.