Both the University of Victoria men’s and women’s golf teams finished off their 2017-18 season in style by claiming a pair of silver medals at the Canadian University Championships in Chilliwack, B.C. on June 1.
“Ultimately, we came to Nationals to win a championship for both the men and women, however I am still proud of how the teams played despite the two runner-up finishes,” said Vikes head coach Justin Clews. “It was a great year for both teams.”
Undisputedly one of the top programs in the nation, the two team medals that the Vikes earned in Chilliwack brings their total Canadian Nationals hardware haul to 22. Since the Vikes began competing at the tournament in 2003, they have secured a spot on the podium every single year and have placed both the men’s and women’s teams in the top-3 in six of those 16 seasons.
After four rounds of play on the Chilliwack Golf Course, the Vikes men tallied a score of 1143. They were bested by only the host University of the Fraser Valley Cascades who jumped out to a dominating first-round lead and never looked back, en route to posting a score of 1126.
“I thought the men had a really good shot at winning this week with our three seniors but our first round really put us behind the eight ball,” said Clews. “Nevertheless, they played hard after that and finished the event strong.”
While the Vikes couldn’t quite close the gap to the Cascades, they clearly separated themselves from the rest of the field, finishing nine-strokes ahead of the third-place Manitoba Bisons (1152) and 14 clear of the fourth-place Humber Hawks (1157) and Ottawa Gee-Gees (1157).
In his final tournament as a Vike, Lawren Rowe finished the tournament the way he has countless times throughout his four year university career, by being the top Vike on the individual leaderboard.
Rowe’s rounds of 75, 65, 70 and 74 were good enough to put the 2017 NAIA PING All-American in a tie for sixth-place.
Ending his tournament with a personal-low round of four-under-par 68, Josh Miller hit five birdies and one eagle on the day to move up the leaderboard into a tie for 17th.
Also finishing the season with aplomb was graduating Vike Bruce Tomie. The native of Bedford, NS fired in four birdies as well as an eagle to cap off his Vikes career with a round of 69 and in a tie for 22nd-place.
“Josh got it going today and finally got the putter working,” said Clews. “Both Josh and Bruce had a solid final two days and really helped our team score. It was nice to see Bruce finish off that way to cap off his Vikes career.”
Mike Griffin was the third senior on the Vikes men’s team and he played consistently throughout the tournament to card rounds of 73, 73, 72 and 76, good enough to finish in a tie for 38th.
Right on the heels of Griffin was second-year Vike Jacob Hayes who finished his tournament with an overall score of 295 and in a tie for 40th.
The Vikes women also finished comfortably in second-place, their team total of 917 couldn’t match the outstanding play of the champion UBC Thunderbirds (883) but was well ahead of the third-place Cascades (922) and the fourth-place Montréal Carabins (926).
“The women battled hard all week, but didn’t have enough to keep up with UBC,” said Clews. “They came a long way this season and credit to them and assistant coach Dave Rands for their hard work all season.”
All four members of the Vikes finished in the top-25 at the tournament, as they showed great consistency in claiming their 13th team medal at Nationals in 16 years.
“That definitely shows they played consistently all week,” said Clews. “A lot of this success is a result of their strong work ethic at practice leading up to events.”
Quinn Fitzgerald earned herself at top-4 finish after outstanding rounds of 74, 74, 76 and 76. The third-year Vike recorded seven birdies throughout the four rounds of action.
“Quinn was a real bright spot this week,” said Clews. “We had contributions from all players, but Quinn really stepped it up at this event and I think this is a good confidence booster for her heading into next season.”
Fifth-year Vike Cadence Hellmann is the lone graduating player on the Vikes women’s team and the 2018 NAIA Second Team All-American capped off her incredibly impressive season with a 16th-place finish at Nationals.
Nicole Gargarella shot rounds of 75, 83, 73 and 81 while being the sixth-best player on the par-three holes at the tournament to finish right behind Hellmann in a tie for 19th.
Rounding out the Vike effort was Rhiannon Jones. While Jones was unable to recapture the magic of the hole-in-one she shot during a practice round on Monday, the second-year Vike fired in the 11th-most birdies in the field en route to finishing the tournament 24th overall.
Men’s Team Standings
1. UFV Cascades (278-277-284-287: 1126) -26
2. UVic Vikes (295-278-284-286: 1143) -9
3. Manitoba Bisons (298-284-288-282: 1152) E
4. Humber Hawks (298-285-281-293: 1157) +5
4. Ottawa Gee-Gees (297-289-284-287: 1157) +5
2rd – VICTORIA (295-278-284-286: 1143) -9
T6 – Lawren Rowe (75-65-70-74: 284) -4
T17 – Josh Miller (77-70-74-68: 289) +1
T22 – Bruce Tomie (75-78-68-69: 290) +2
T38 – Mike Griffin (73-73-72-76: 294) +6
T40 – Jacob Hayes (72-70-78-75: 295) +7
Women’s Team Standings
1. UBC T-Birds (221-224-219-219: 883) +19
2. UVic Vikes (226-232-226-233: 917) +53
3. UFV Cascades (236-223-239-224: 922) +58
4. Montréal Carabins (223-230-237-236: 926) +62
5. U of T Varsity Blues (234-232-228-235: 929) +65
2nd – VICTORIA (226-232-226-233: 917) +53
T4 – Quinn Fitzgerald (74-74-76-76: 300) +12
T16 – Cadence Hellmann (77-78-77-79: 311) +23
T19 – Nicole Gargarella (75-83-73-81: 312) +24
T24 – Rhiannon Jones (77-80-79-78: 314) +26