TEMPE, Ariz. – In the third and final round of the PING/Arizona State Invitational, the Northern Arizona University golf team ended the weekend with a 54-hole team score of 37-over-par 901 and the 14th-place finish.
Now, a 14th place finish on paper does not sound impressive, but when matched up against eight other universities that are ranked in the top-50 nationally, to hang in there and still turn in some respectable scorecards is nothing to scoff at.
"This was easily the toughest field we'll play in all year," said Bedortha. "For us to come here, I knew the odds were going to be stacked against us but we handled ourselves well. We played fairly consistently and posted back-to-back good team scores yesterday and today. In fact, on today's 13-over 301 score alone, our golfers beat three of the teams here so that's definitely another positive take away."
Statistically, it was sophomore Sofia Anokhina with the best score for the Lumberjacks on the weekend, as the Russian native turned in a 1-under 71 scorecard today for a three-round total of 1-under 215. During Sunday's action, she registered three birdies to cancel out bogeys on No. 5 and 18, and was able to finish the stacked tournament with a respectable and impressive tie for 11th.
"[Anokhina] really played great this weekend," said Graduate Assistant Coach Langley Vannoy. "To finish 11th in a field this strong really says a lot about the kind of golfer she is. She continued to play lights out today, and actually recorded her best round of the tournament so I couldn't be more proud."
"This is going to help her ranking immensely," Bedortha confirmed. "For her to step into this type of atmosphere where there are literally 36 golfers ranked in the top-250 is amazing. It's definitely going to propel her up the individual rankings, as well."
Playing out of the No. 3 slot for NAU this weekend was Kaitlyn Saum, who notched a 3-over 75 mark during today's action. Following a double-bogey on the par-4 No. 4, the Lumberjack junior closed out the round with five consecutive pars to end her tournament at 13-over 229 and tied for 61st.
Other Lumberjack golfers that scored this weekend include Kim Cifuentes (12-over 228—56th), Carly Akine (27-over 243—80th) and Loren Skibba (16-over 232). Cifuentes went for a 5-over 77 tally Sunday, while Akine recorded her best round of the tournament today at 6-over 78. Skibba rounded out her score today at 9-over 81.
"We're not far off from where we want to be," said Vannoy. "We showed a lot of improvement at this tournament against eight top-50 ranked schools. Relative to the competition we normally see, this tournament was something we can absolutely build on for conference championships in a couple weeks."
The next time the Lumberjacks are back in action will be at the Big Sky Conference Championships in Boulder City, Nev., on Friday, April 21-23. Picked as preseason No. 7, the NAU squad will look to prove some people wrong in a couple weekends.