FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – After going a little over two weeks since competing in its last tournament, the Northern Arizona University golf team is ready to tee off and begin play from the Sacramento State Invitational this Monday and Tuesday.
"From a physical, mental and emotional standpoint, it was definitely good for our team to have a break from competition," said Head Coach Brad Bedortha. "As a coach, though, it will be tough to determine whether or not it really helped our team until we get back into competition and see some performances. That starts tomorrow, and we're just looking to continue our progression. The focus has been learning how to control our in-round emotions better, and I like where our athletes' attitudes are."
Coming off her second tournament victory in three tries this spring, sophomore Sofia Anokhina will lead the Lumberjacks once again this week scoring out of the No. 1 slot. So far in 2017, Anokhina has posted a scoring round average of 70.77 and six of her nine rounds have been scored at even-par or below.
Most recently, she took home the individual title at NAU's host tournament: the Red Rocks Invitational. There, she tied the lowest round ever turned in by a Lumberjack golfer (5-under-par 67) and set the new 54-hole school record with a 12-under 204 mark.
Statistically, junior Kaitlyn Saum has remained consistent for the Lumberjack squad this spring. Last time out in Sedona, the junior from Mesa, Ariz., went for 9-over 225 to finish 17th in the 80-golfer field. With her fall and spring scores factored in, Saum is logging an average round score of 77.29—second-best on the team.
Other golfers scoring this week for NAU will be senior Kim Cifuentes and juniors Carly Akine and Sierra Bezdicek. As team, the Lumberjacks are attempting to build off a third-place finish at Red Rocks (34-over 898). It was at that tournament in which NAU posted two sub-300 team rounds. Even with the 15 day layoff, the 'Jacks are hoping to ride that momentum into Roseville, Calif., Monday and Tuesday.
"I think it was good for them to have a bit of a break from competition," said Graduate Assistant Coach Langley Vannoy. "Earlier this season, our golfers were competing a lot, and maybe they were a little worn out with school and the travel. Everyone has been able to rest, recover and recharge, which I think will play into our favor."
"With all that said, every single golfer of ours at this tournament spent a good amount of time practicing over break. After wrapping up with today's practice round, they seem to be on their game."
The Sac State Invite is a field of 12 universities—five of whom are conference foes—that will play two rounds on Monday with a third round scheduled for Tuesday on the Sierra View Country Club golf course. Sierra View plays a par-72 at 6133 yards. First round action will get underway for NAU with Akine teeing off at 8:12 a.m. MT tomorrow.