FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – For the third-consecutive season, the Northern Arizona University golf team will open its fall slate of tournaments with the Hobble Creek Fall Classic in Springville, Utah, Sept. 12 and 13.
Coming off a third-place finish at Big Sky Conference championships last season, the NAU squad is eager to get back out on the golf course and compete against some high-caliber opponents next week.
"We have the core of the team back and from what I've seen so far, they've been doing well," said Head Coach Brad Bedortha. "Overall, the team unity has been phenomenal and the interaction amongst the players has been great."
The Lumberjacks return a bevy of experience with senior Kim Cifuentes and juniors Kaitlyn Saum, Carly Akine and Sierra Bezdicek returning to the lineup in 2016-17, while newcomers Loren Skibba and Emma Reyes hope to make positive contributions as well this fall.
A key contributor to the Lumberjacks' success this fall and beyond will be the athletes' ability to maintain a confident and optimistic mental state out on the golf course, even if their physical scores don't quite match up.
"We always tell them that they can't control the score they're going to shoot, but they can control their attitude and their effort," said Bedortha. "That's the biggest thing we keep preaching to them. I feel like they're doing a lot of really good things. If they continue to do those things and put in the effort and time, I'm comfortable their golf games are going to continue to grow and get better."
One athlete that will not be traveling to Springville, Utah, this week, however, will be sophomore phenom Sofia Anokhina. The Moscow, Russia, native is heading to Cancun, Mexico, next week for the World Amateur Team Championships.
"I would say we're fairly optimistic with the group of players that we have," said Bedortha. "At the end of the day, we should have good results if we continue doing what we're doing."
The Lumberjacks are hoping they can continue their progression at the Hobble Creek tournament, seeing as they finished 10th two seasons ago and 7th last year.
"The last two years, we've only gotten in two rounds at this tournament because of rain," said Bedortha. "It's supposed to be a three round tournament, so hopefully we'll get three rounds in. The first year we played there, we played poorly. Last year, we played better and hopefully this year we play much better."
As Bedortha mentioned above, the Hobble Creek Fall Classic is set to be a three-round, 54-hole tournament with the first 36 being played on Monday and the final 18 on Tuesday. Both days are scheduled for 8:15 MT tee times.