FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – For the fifth time in program history the NAU women's golf team will compete in the NCAA West Regional, playing amongst a field of 24 of the best women's golf programs in the country Thursday-Saturday at the Stanford Golf Course. The top eight finishers in the region will qualify for the NCAA Golf Championships, which will be hosted by the University of Georgia May 21-24
"We're definitely looking forward to the experience," NAU head coach Brad Bedortha said. "It should be a great trip for us and I'm just excited to go out and compete and give it a shot. The girls are very excited to go out there and have this opportunity."
The Lumberjacks will be competing in a loaded field that includes top-seeded USC, the No. 1 team in the country, as well as No. 8 Arizona and six other teams ranked in the Golf World/WGCA top 25. Fifteen of the 24 teams competing in the region are from power conferences, including five teams from the Pac-12. NAU is seeded 22nd in the region, ahead of Summit League champion North Dakota State and Northeast Conference champion Long Island.
"We're not going there to just show up; its competition and we want to go do the best that we can," Bedortha said. "We can't worry about what other people are doing but just worry about what we're doing and we need to do to play our best golf. If we can do that things will take care of themselves."
For the third time in its five NCAA Regional appearances NAU will be playing at Stanford, as the Cardinal were also the host of the regional when the Lumberjacks qualified in 1998 in 2002. NAU's best finish at the west regional came in its first appearance in 1997 when it placed 15th out of 20 teams with a 911 total. The team has finished 18th in each of its last three regional appearances including its most recent trip in 2009, though the regional field has expanded from 21 to 24 teams since that time.
NAU's best individual finish at the West Regional came from former Lumberjack Dianne Overstreet in 1998 when she tied for 30th overall. The team's best individual score in NCAA play came from Ali Carter, who shot a 222 to lead the team in 2009 and finish tied for 35th overall. Bedortha will be making his second appearance in the regional with NAU and his eighth overall including six consecutive trips from 2002-07 as the head coach at Ferris State.
The Lumberjacks earned the Big Sky's automatic qualifier to the regional by virtue of their four-stroke victory over Portland State two weeks ago in the Big Sky Championship. Junior Kaitlen Parsons led the way as she tied 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. Sophomore Darian Spivey tied for ninth place and senior Stephanie Kim finished 11th as NAU received solid play from all five of its competitors to win the seventh Big Sky title in program history.
Kim was subsequently named to the All-Big Sky first team as the second-highest rated player in the Big Sky Golfstat rankings this season, becoming one of only five players in program history to be a four-time All-Big Sky selection. Freshman Savana Bezdicek was also named to the first team and was the Big Sky Freshman of the Year after she won two individual tournaments during the regular season. Parsons was a second-team selection and Bedortha was named Big Sky Coach of the Year for the second time in just five seasons at NAU.
NAU will play with North Dakota State and Long Island as the final teams to tee off on Thursday beginnning at 12:55 p.m. For NCAA regional updates throughout the week like NAU Athletics on facebook and follow @NAUAthletics and #NCAAWGolf on twitter. Fans can also follow all the action on Stanford's Tournament Central.