Women’s golf takes aim at championship

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Theirs, to a tee: Sophomore Katie Ortman gets ready to swing during a golf practice. Ortman is one of four players from last year to return to Arizona to take a shot at a second championship.
Theirs, to a tee: Sophomore Katie Ortman gets ready to swing during a golf practice. Ortman is one of four players from last year to return to Arizona to take a shot at a second championship.
The Vikings now move into the postseason
Theirs, to a tee: Sophomore Katie Ortman gets ready to swing during a golf practice. Ortman is one of four players from last year to return to Arizona to take a shot at a second championship.Karl Kuchs / Vanguard Staff
Theirs, to a tee: Sophomore Katie Ortman gets ready to swing during a golf practice. Ortman is one of four players from last year to return to Arizona to take a shot at a second championship.

After a season of ups and downs, the women’s golf team is coming to the end of their 2011–12 campaign. This weekend they will travel to Chandler, Ariz., to compete against eight other teams in the Big Sky Conference Championship. The Vikings come to the championship after a year of mixed results. Before last week, the team hadn’t walked away from a tournament with better than an eighth-place finish since September. They are the defending champions, however, and junior Britney Yada is the defending individual champion.

“Our goal from day one this year was to win the Big Sky Championship,” head coach Kathleen Takaishi said. “After last week’s performance, they should have some confidence and realize they have the capability to win.”

The Vikings are coming into the tournament on a high note. Last week they surprised everyone with a dominant performance at the Wyoming Cowgirl Classic. Yada and senior Tiffany Schoning both made the top five list for individual golfers and the Vikings walked away with a third place finish out of 24 teams, also beating the seven other Big Sky teams in the tournament.

“We have been close to playing really well the past few weeks,” Takaishi said. “Everyone seemed to play pretty well last week. It definitely is good timing. Last week’s performance should give them a lot of confidence going into the Big Sky Championship.”

For the second year, the championship will be held at Ocotillo Golf Resort in Chandler. The forecast as of printing predicts a high of 102 degrees Sunday, the first day of the tournament. Takaishi was confident in her team’s ability to adjust to the hot weather.

“The weather at tournaments isn’t always great,” Takaishi said. “So we have an advantage when we play in rain and wind. [It’s still] a bonus for us to play in sun and dry weather. I think it is easier to adjust to warm and dry conditions.”

The team has made adjustments this year to round out the championship squad. In January, the team added a sports psychologist, Elliott Waksman, to the staff to help players deal with some of the mental stresses on the golf course.

“Adding Elliott to our staff has been a good thing,” Takaishi said. “I have been wanting the team to work with a sports psychologist for some time. There are a lot of Division I programs that utilize sports psychologists. In the fall, we incorporated working on the mental aspect into practice. Elliott has done a great job connecting with the team and getting them to go through the process.”

Takaishi said she is encouraging her players to give it their all this weekend, so they don’t walk away with any regrets.

“I don’t think there is that much pressure on them,” Takaishi said. “I have been stressing to go out there, stick to your game plan, pay attention to your surroundings, pay attention to detail and most importantly have fun.”

The Vikings will defend their postseason conference title Sunday at Ocotillo Golf Resort in Chandler, Ariz. The winning team will advance to the NCAA West regional tournament in May for a chance to compete in the NCAA Championship.

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