Drew Groshong ’17 swings his sand wedge club to drive the golf ball out of a pesky sand trap earlier in the season. (Photo Courtesy LC Pioneers)

Teeing off on the last leg of the NWC championship tournament

Golf gets ready to wrap up their 2015-16 season at the Crosswater Golf Course

By Peter Melling /// Sports Editor

Now that the spring is in full swing, the men’s and women’s golf teams are getting ready to close out their season at the Northwest Conference Championship in Sunriver, Oregon. Both squads will look to close out the season high on the leaderboards, as the men’s team is in seventh place with five points, and the women’s team is in fourth place with 11 points. This will be the end of a long journey that has taken Golf both the fall and spring seasons to complete.

The Golf Pioneers will be entering the NWC Championship on a bit of a hot streak. At the Willamette Spring Thaw on April 16 and 17, the women finished in first place with 308 points (20 over par) and the men netted fifth place with 319 points (64 over par). Five members of the women’s squad (first place Annie McCutchan ’19, tied for third place Claire Burke ’17 and Mady Rhodenbaugh ’19 and tied for eighth place Jane Almeida ’19 and Sofia Vigil ’17) finished in the top 10 of the tournament. The men also had a top 10 finisher, with Desmond Maisel ’16 netting eighth place.

It will be of the utmost importance for both teams to capitalize on their Spring Thaw successes at the NWC Championship. The NWC determines the champion by combining point totals from three events spread throughout the fall and spring seasons (the Fall Classic, the Spring Classic and the NWC Championship). Throughout the first two events, the women’s team trails conference-leading George Fox University by four points. The men’s team has a somewhat more arduous task, as they trail first place Whitworth University by 10 points.

“We have a strong recruiting class, who are set to join the a great core group of golfers. This upcoing season is going to be competitive and fun to watch,” said Head Coach Dave Andrews, in an interview with LCPioneers.com at the start of the season. The team has certainly been fun to watch, given the solid performances from both rookies, like Rhodenbaugh (who has consistently finished atop the team standings and received the NWC Athlete of the Week on March 1) and veterans, like Drew Groshong ’17 (who finished in fourth place at the University of Puget Sound Logger Invitational and tied with Jacob Bell ’19 for third place at the Pioneer Invitational).

The NWC Championship will also be a transitional event for Golf. It will be the first championship tournament for the rookies on both teams (three men and six women), and it will be the final event for the four seniors of the men’s squad. This championship meet will represent the start of a new era for Pioneer golf, one spearheaded by these talented rookies and the maturation of the veteran athletes. The NWC Championship starts on April 23 at Crosswater Golf Course in Sunriver, Oregon and continues on April 24.

Should they qualify, athletes will have the option of going to the NCAA Division III Championships, with the women going to Bay Oaks Country Club in Houston, Texas and the men traveling to Midvale Country Club and Mendon Golf Course in Rochester, New York.

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