The University Of Victoria Vikes golf program staked its claim to being one of the top schools in the Association of Independent Institutions Conference this week after both the Vikes men’s and women’s teams earned second place finishes at the Regional Championship tournament in Phoenix, AZ.
While the eventual placings may have been the same for both the Vikes men and women, there was a world of difference in how they got there.
The Vikes men were tied with Our Lady of the Lake University after three rounds and 54 holes of action, meaning that the two teams would send out all five of their members for one final playoff hole. The Vikes shot well and ended the hole with an even score as a team, but were bested by just one stroke to miss out on the conference title.
“I am proud of the guys play today, but unfortunately we came up a bit short of winning a conference championship,” said Vikes head coach Justin Clews.
The news wasn’t all negative on the day however, as the second-place finish officially qualified the Vikes for their third trip to the NAIA National Championships in the last four years.
“Although we were likely ranked high enough to get in with an at-large bid, we earned a spot with our performance this week,” said Clews.
Mike Griffin was named to the A.I.I. All-Conference Team for his outstanding play at the tournament as the fourth-year Vike led the team with a three-round total of 219 strokes, good enough to tie for second on the individual leader board.
“The guys played well on a day where the wind was off and on throughout the day,” said Clews. “We hit a lot of quality golf shots out there today. I’m proud of these guys and although we are disappointed we didn’t win the playoff, we need to re-focus and prepare for nationals.”
Trailing the UBC Thunderbirds by nine strokes after the first day of action, the Vikes women knew they would be in tough to track down their Lower-Mainland rivals, and while a miracle comeback wasn’t in the cards, the Vikes went out and played their best golf of the year in what could be their last round of their NAIA season.
“Really proud of the women today, shooting 304, our best team score this year,” said Clews. “Although we finished eight shots back of UBC, we gained a shot on them today and that really shows we can compete with the top teams in the NAIA.”
Four of the five Vikes recorded final round scores in the 70’s to put up their best team score of the season, a number that saw them improve by 15 strokes over their first round in Phoenix.
Following Fitzgerald and Hellmann, were Nicole Gargarella, Melanie Murchison and Rhiannon Joneswho posted scores of 161, 163 and 163 respectively. The biggest catalyst for the turnaround was Jones, who shot a team-low round of 74 on the day.
Unlike the men, the Vikes women must now play the waiting game to find out whether or not they journey to nationals. With only one automatic-qualifying bid up for grabs, the Vikes will have to hope that their No. 14 ranking in the latest NAIA Top-25 Coaches Polls is enough to convince the people in charge that they deserve an at-large bid.
“It was a great confidence booster for the women this weekend and now we wait to see if we receive an at-large bid for nationals,” said Clews. “I think hanging with UBC this week really proves we deserve to be selected.”
2nd – VICTORIA (300-304-293: 897)
T2 – Mike Griffin (70-76-73: 219)
T7 – Lawren Rowe (72-75-76: 223)
T9 – Josh Miller (78-75-71: 224)
T22 – Jacob Hayes (80-78-73: 232)
T40 – Bruce Tomie (81-78-82:240)
2nd – VICTORIA (319-304: 623)
T2 – Quinn Fitzgerald (77-77: 154)
T2 – Cadence Hellmann (79-75: 154)
8 – Nicole Gargarella (83-78: 161)
T11 – Melanie Murchison (80-83: 163)
T11 – Rhiannon Jones (89-74: 163)
Women’s 2018 All A.I.I. Honours
Player of the Year: Cecile Kwon, University of British Columbia
Coach of the Year: Chris MacDonald, University of British Columbia
All-A.I.I. Conference Team:
Cecile Kwon, University of British Columbia
Cadence Hellmann, University of Victoria (British Columbia)
Quinn Fitzgerald, University of Victoria (British Columbia)
Shania Remandaban, University of British Columbia
Kelly Hellman, University of British Columbia
Men’s 2018 ALL A.I.I. Honours
Player of the Year: Nick Horton, Arizona Christian University
Coach of the Year: Alan E. Baxter, Our Lady of the Lake (Texas)
All-A.I.I. Conference Team:
Nick Horton, Arizona Christian University
Graeme Brunet, University of the Southwest (N.M.)
Mike Griffin, University of Victoria (British Columbia)
Chris Senna, Arizona Christian University
Zahidali Nathu, University of British Columbia