March 26, 2017

Women’s golf ends on a high note

Sophomore Katie Dunaway prepares for a putt during an afternoon practice on Monday, April 11. 

The Sacramento State women’s golf team wrapped up its 2015-16 season on April 20 with a second place finish at the Big Sky Conference Championship in Boulder City, Nevada.

The conference championship was the finale to one of the best seasons in Sac State women’s golf history, including the three best scoring rounds in Hornet history at three different events.

The Hornets initially tied the school record for best team round back on Sept. 21, 2015 with a score of 290, before breaking it on March 8, 2016 with a score of 286 and finally breaking their own record with a score of five-under, 283, in the final round of the conference championship.

Sophomore Astha Madan, who currently holds the best career scoring average in Sac State women’s golf history, 75.98, is very proud of what the team has accomplished this season.

“I think we exceeded our own expectations,” Madan said. “Our season was extremely consistent. All the hours that we put in, you really saw results. I would say we had some amazing achievements this season.”

Those achievements were not limited to team accomplishments. Each of the individual golfers on the team had their own highlights throughout the season.

Freshman Julia Becker started her collegiate career off with opening rounds of 73 and book-ended her season with a school record-tying round of 68 in the final round of the season.

Senior Natalie Bodnar finished off her collegiate career with a solid season, including two of her three best rounds in her career (75 on Oct. 21, 2015 and 76 on Sept. 26, 2015).

Sophomore Katie Dunaway was the team’s best and most consistent player in the fall, with a scoring average of 75.83, and she tied her career-best with a score of 71 in the final round of the conference championship.

Senior Rockelle Sande finished her Sac State career as the one of the more accomplished players in Hornet women’s golf, with a career scoring average of 77.33, placing her fourth thanks to a top-five finish at the Sacramento State Invitational in March and a career-best 54-hole score of 218 in the Big Sky Championship.

Junior Chloe Bartek had the best year of her career with a scoring average of 76.43, finishing the season with back-to-back rounds of 72, just a shot off her career-best, in the conference championship to establish a new personal best three-round score of 217 to tie for fifth in the event.

Bartek will be the only senior on the team next year, and her teammates, along with coach David Sutherland, believe she is ready to take over as the leader of the squad with seniors Sande and Bodnar leaving.

“Chloe [Bartek] will be great at [leading]” Sutherland said. “She has one of the best GPA’s in the entire department and has been a tremendous golfer for us the last three years. [Leadership] is not even a little bit of a concern for us, for a long time. We have great kids in our program, and all of them understand how we operate and what the program’s like here, and we’ll be just fine. We’ll be right back at it.”

Madan also weighed in on her teammate.

“We all have a ton of faith in [Bartek],” Madan said. “She has leadership capabilities, and we’re really looking forward to what’s in store for next season. Our team dynamics are going to change a bit, but we’re only going to [get better].”

Madan’s confidence heading into next season is well placed, as the Hornets are bringing back four golfers, all of whom are in the top six in school history in career scoring average. Madan ranks first, Becker ranks third, Dunaway is fifth, and Bartek is sixth.

With this season finished, the team is looking forward to getting another crack at winning the Big Sky next year, after three consecutive second place finishes and is confident that it has the talent and the leadership to continue its strong performance.

Dunaway, who was the second best golfer on the team in the final round of the conference championship, said the approach for next season will be no different than this one.

“We’ll just go into it [like we always do],” Dunaway said. “I think we’re pretty confident. We had a pretty good season, so we know that we can win [the conference title].”

Madan said the close loss that the team suffered in the conference championship will actually help the team going into next year.

“I believe that there are no limits to [how good we could be],” Madan said. “Not just going into conference but going into every tournament next year.”

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