CHANDLER, Ariz. – Northern Arizona opened up a seven stroke lead over Portland State after the front nine and fended off a late charge by the Vikings to claim the 2013 Big Sky Championship by four strokes with a three-day total of 882. The Lumberjacks will represent the conference in the NCAA Regionals and in all likelihood will be at the West Regional hosted by Stanford University May 9-11.
"It's an unbelievable and amazing feeling," NAU head coach Brad Bedortha said. "Starting the day out I was just completely comfortable and calm and confident with my players; it was just easy going right from the get-go and I had a good feeling. They played great all day from top to bottom. They've done a great job all season and I'm just really happy for everybody."
The Lumberjacks trailed Portland State by nine strokes after the first day of the tournament and were tied with the Vikings after the second round before pulling away Tuesday to win a Big Sky-record seventh all-time conference golf title.
Junior Kaitlen Parsons was named to the all-tournament team after tying for 2nd place with a three-day total of one-under-par 215, tying former Lumberjack Bethany Leclair for the best three-round score in program history.
Parsons was the team's top-scorer in all three rounds of the tournament with scores of 73-71-71. She opened her final round with birdies on one and two and added two more birdies on the back nine, ending with a birdie after narrowly missing an eagle putt to tie with Portland State's Britany Yada for second place overall. Montana State's Paige Crawford was the individual champion with a Big Sky-record eight-under-par tournament total of 208.
Stephanie Kim, NAU's lone senior, also opened with a birdie and remained at one-under-par through the 14th hole before ending with a 74. She placed 11th overall for the tournament, and for the first time in her storied career she will play in the NCAA Regionals.
"It feels pretty amazing; I've waited four years for this," said Kim. "We've worked so hard this year and I don't know how to explain how proud I am of my team. I've waited four years to play in the NCAA Regionals and to finally do that this year is amazing."
Sophomore Darian Spivey, who equaled Parsons' team-best round on Sunday, matched that score with a 73 on Tuesday for a superb 73-74-73 line and a career-best 220 total to tie for ninth place overall. Freshman Savana Bezdicek had another outstanding round, making par on 16 of 18 holes and finishing with an even-par 72, while sophomore Susana Mejia closed out a strong Big Sky showing with a 79.
The Lumberjacks won the seventh Big Sky Golf Championship in program history and their first since 2009 while recording the best Big Sky Championship score in program history by nine strokes. NAU also moved past Portland State for the most all-time Big Sky golf titles while Bedortha won his second conference championship in just five seasons as the Lumberjacks head coach. The team will play in the NCAA Regional Championship for the fifth time in program history.
"I don't think that's even hit yet," said Bedortha regarding the NCAA Regionals. "That's finals week so there's going to be some shuffling and planning, but we won that honor and get that privilege so it will be a pleasure to go."
The field for the NCAA Regionals will be officially announced next Monday, April 29, at 6 p.m. Arizona time with a live selection show on NCAA.com.
Big Sky Championship – Ocotillo Golf Resort /Chandler, Ariz. – Par 72
Final Team Standings
1. Northern Arizona 299 293 290 882 +18
2. Portland State 290 302 294 886 +22
T3. Southern Utah 306 299 296 901 +37
T3. Northern Colorado 304 295 302 901 +37
5. Sacramento State 300 301 303 904 +40
6. Eastern Washington 301 312 298 911 +47
7. Weber State 301 310 304 915 +51
8. Montana 322 307 290 919 +55
9. Montana State 322 307 293 922 +58
10. North Dakota 330 332 333 995 +131
11. Idaho State 347 332 328 1007 +143
1. Paige Crawford Montana State 73 68 67 208 -8
T2. Kaitlen Parsons Northern Arizona 73 71 71 215 -1
T2. Britney Yada Portland State 70 73 72 215 -1
4. A Ram Choi Portland State 71 75 70 216 E
T5. Olivia Weber Montana 71 74 72 217 +1
T5. Kercia Brakel Sacramento State 75 71 71 217 +1
T5. Carleigh Silvers Northern Colorado 73 69 75 217 +1
8. Sadie Palmer Southern Utah 73 74 72 219 +3
T9. Darian Spivey Northern Arizona 73 74 73 220 +4
T9. Jayme Carbon Eastern Washington 76 75 69 220 +4
Other NAU Results
11. Stephanie Kim 74 73 74 221 +5
22. Savana Bezdicek 84 75 72 231 +15
35. Susana Mejia 79 78 79 236 +20