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NAU's Anokhina Becomes First NAU Golfer Since '14 to Win Tourney

NAU's Sofia Anokhina
NAU's Sofia Anokhina

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Northern Arizona's Sofia Anokhina recorded a third and final round score of ever-par 72 Tuesday to finish the week with a 216 score and the individual victory at the Battle at the Rock Tournament. As a team, the Lumberjacks finished the tournament in a tie for fourth (54-over-par 918) with a third-round tally of 18-over 306. 

With her performance this week, Anokhina became the first Lumberjack golfer since the 2014 spring season to secure an individual tournament victory with round scores of 71-73-72.

"[Anokhina] was spot-on this week," said head coach Brad Bedortha. "As a coach, you just have that golf instinct she's going to play great the moment she steps on the golf course. It's just so fun to watch someone that is so in control of her golf game." 

The native of Russia also tapped in three birdies during the final 18 holes of play to add to her tournament total of seven. After logging the third-best single season scoring average in NAU history in 2016, the Lumberjack sophomore looks to be poised for even better things this year.

"She's just really on her game," said graduate assistant coach Langley Vannoy. "Her confidence and self-belief has gotten to the point where she knows exactly what she wants to do out there and gets it done."

While Anokhina was the most consistent golfer this week for the Lumberjacks, what cannot be forgotten is the performance of senior and team leader Kim Cifuentes. Today, she responded with another composed round of golf, turning in a 2-over 74 scorecard to finish the week at 19-over 235. After a rocky start to the spring in Monday's morning round (15-over 87), Cifuentes seems to have shook off winter's rust and looks to be just as on top of her golf game as anyone going forward.

Just as was the case with the first two rounds, junior Kaitlyn Saum and freshman Emma Reyes matched each other shot-for-shot today, tallying identical 8-over 80 scores. The Lumberjack duo ended Tuesday with a three-round total score of 21-over 237 and tied for 47th place.

"I thought our golfers looked great this week," said Vannoy. "They definitely believed they were just as good as all the teams out there, which is something we didn't see in the fall. Now, I feel like they have that edge back and it is going to be a fun spring."

Certainly not an excuse, but cold systems affected some of the golfers today on NAU's team. Nothing to fret about, but their ability to battle through it just shows the kind of determined make-up of this Lumberjack squad.

"I thought our golfers handled themselves well," said Bedortha. "Did everyone play great? Not necessarily, but they competed to the best of their abilities today and that's all Coach Vannoy and I ask of them. Everyone gave it their all, and we're proud of them."

Cal Poly won the tournament with a 39-over 903 score, with Hawaii (45-over 909) and host UC Riverside (49-over 913) finishing second and third, respectively. 

The Lumberjacks compete next Feb. 24 through the 26 at the Rio Verde Invitational in Rio Verde, Ariz.