OGDEN, Utah - Defending Big Sky Conference women’s golf champion Northern Arizona is the coaches’ top pick in the 2010 preseason poll, which was released by the league on Thursday.
“It is always a honor to be recognized by your peers,” said Head Coach Brad Bedortha. “We are looking forward to defending the title in April.”
Bedortha’s Lumberjacks received six of the nine first-place votes and 62 total points. Sacramento State was a solid pick at the No. 2 spot, earning three first-place votes and 59 total points. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team.
Northern Arizona captured its sixth Big Sky championship with a six-shot victory over Sacramento State last April in Chandler, Ariz. The Lumberjacks enjoyed a solid 2009 spring campaign, winning three of five tournaments, and finishing second at another. NAU averaged 301.7 strokes per round during the fall.
Six of the top eight fall scoring averages were recorded by Northern Arizona golfers. Junior Alexa Kim, who tied for second at the 2009 Big Sky Championship, averaged 75.08 strokes per round with four top-10 finishes. Senior Megan Buck averaged 75.42 strokes per round, followed by senior Meghan Bremer (75.89), freshman Stephanie Kim (76.17), junior Bethany Leclair (76.84) and junior Dakin Banta (76.83).
Sacramento State, coached by David Sunderland, averaged 308.3 strokes per round in the spring, with three top-five team finishes. Sophomore Julie Shutler had the third-best scoring average (75.82) amongst Sky golfers in the fall. Junior Samantha Saffold, sophomore Justine Chen, senior Brooke Green and Shutler all finished in the top 15 at the 2009 Big Sky Championship. Green and Chen both earned First-Team All-Conference honors in 2009.
The University of Montana was selected third in the preseason poll with 46 total points. The Grizzlies were followed by Portland State (41), Northern Colorado (33), Weber State (32), Montana State (27), Eastern Washington (16) and Idaho State (8).
Montana returns junior Carissa Simmons, who tied for fifth at the 2009 championship. Simmons averaged 76.67 strokes per round in the fall with two top-10 finishes.
Portland State should be bolstered by the return of healthy Stephanie Johns, who missed all but one tournament in the fall with a back injury. Johns was an All-Conference selection in 2009, and tied for 16th at the conference championship.
Portland State is the first Sky team to open spring play, traveling the Gold Rush Tournament hosted by Long Beach State on Feb. 8-9.
Northern Colorado returns sophomore
Ali Nelson, the reigning Big Sky Conference medalist.
The 2010 Big Sky Conference Championship returns to the Ocotillo Golf Resort in Chandler, Ariz. The 54-hole tournament will be played April 19-21.
2010 Big Sky Conference Preseason
Team (First-Place Votes) Points
1. Northern Arizona (6) 62
2. Sacramento State (3) 59
3. Montana 46
4. Portland State 41
5. Northern Colorado 33
6. Weber State 32
7. Montana State 27
8. Eastern Washington 16
9. Idaho State 9