NAU's Sofia Anokhina Named 2017 Big Sky "Player of the Year"

NAU's Sofia Anokhina
NAU's Sofia Anokhina

OGDEN, Utah – She has won a total of three tournaments this spring season out of a possible five and has posted a 2017 scoring average of 70.92, so it is only fitting that Northern Arizona University's Sofia Anokhina be named the Big Sky Conference's "Player of the Year."

Anokhina has been named the conference's "Athlete/Golfer of the Week" three times this spring, and has garnered the league's top ranking in both Golfstat and Golf Week this season, per the Big Sky office Monday morning. Anokhina becomes only the sixth NAU golfer in conference history and the first since Stephanie Kim in 2011 to be awarded the "POY" accolade.

Additionally, the Moscow, Russia, native was selected as a member of the first team all-conference squad, becoming the first Lumberjack to receive such an honor since Kaitlen Parsons was a first-team selection back in 2014.

"It's a huge deal for both her and our program," said NAU Head Coach Brad Bedortha. "It's just a testament to the hard word and effort she has put in not only this year but her entire career as well. [Anokhina] played well in fall, but had a couple bad rounds. That was an area of motivation for her and she put in a ton of work over winter break in Russia. She came back this spring and just absolutely killed it. It has been fun to watch her mature as both a golfer and as a person, and this is awesome for her."

It truly has been a spring campaign to remember for Anokhina, as she has posted some incredible scores throughout the year. First at the Battle of the Rock tournament in Riverside, Calif., Anokhina opened her season with a 71-72-73 three-round scorecard en route to notching her first collegiate victory.

From there, she logged a third-place finish at the Rio Verde Invitational (70-74-73) before winning the Lumberjacks' home tournament: the Red Rocks Invite. It was in Sedona where Anokhina made history, turning in the lowest 36-hole (7-under-par 137) and 54-hole (12-under 204) scores in NAU golf history. In fact, it was not even close, besting the old two-round record by two-strokes and the three-round record by 11 strokes. For good measure, the NAU sophomore also tied the lowest single round score ever posted by a 'Jack with a 5-under 67 in the final round of play.

She went onto win the rain-shortened Sacramento State Invitational (69-72) and turned in scores of 72-72-71 at the highly-competitive PING/ASU Invite last time out.

"It's a cool feeling, for sure," Anokhina said in regards to the accolade. "This kind of stuff doesn't happen all the time, and it's important to recognize that. It's amazing to know I can be that competitive on a consistent basis and be honored for it as well."

"With that said, it's a nice award, but I think this will push me even harder to live up to it. It's also important to realize that this is not just my award; it's also a coaches award. This is connected to Coach Bedortha and [Graduate Assistant Coach] Langley Vannoy as much as it is to me. I wouldn't have done this without them, and of course without my team either."

Anokhina, along with the rest of the Lumberjack golf team, will compete this weekend at Big Sky Conference Championships in Boulder City, Nev., looking to break a tie with Kim for the most tournament victories in a single season. Both are tied with three.