Season ends in Arizona for women’s golf

State Hornet Staff

Sacramento State women’s golf took second place, 15 strokes out of first, in its season-ending match in Chandler, Ariz., at the Big Sky Championship.

Head coach David Sutherland said it has been a great season and despite the results of the final tournament and is proud of what the women have accomplished this year.

“I’m extremely proud of the young women in our program,” Sutherland said “They’re an impressive group of women and I think they’re some of the best athletes at (Sac State).”

The squad will be returning three out of their five starters who contributed to the Hornets first-place finish at the Rainbow Wahine Tournament and a second place finish at the Red Rocks Invitational, prior to the Big Sky Championship.

Sac State will be with its No. 1 women’s player Sagee Palavivatana as she enters her senior season along with starters Rockelle Sande as a junior and Chloe Bartek as a sophomore.

Palavivatana struggled with her play down the stretch and recorded only three top-20 individual finishes. The junior finished with a stroke average of 78.83.

Sande improved drastically from last season, going from competing in three tournaments with a 83.50 stroke average to appearing in eight this season with an average of 78.55.

“I redirected my focus into golf 110 percent this season,” Sande said. “I’ve been really driven to succeed in golf this year.”

Bartek as a true freshman led the women with the second best stroke average on the team, shooting 77.58 in 19 rounds.

The Hornets will be without seniors Tiffany Nichols and Lisa Persson, who combined for a total of 11 top-20 individual finishes this season.

“It’s always very sad for me when my seniors graduate,” Sutherland said. “I develop really strong and really close relationships with my team.”

Persson lead the Hornets with a stroke average of 75.64 in 22 rounds and Nichols followed with the third best average at 78.32 in 25 rounds.

Both seniors competed in every tournament this season and made two postseason appearances, each in their careers as a Hornet. Nichols and Persson hold the first and second place record, respectively, for best career scoring average in 26 rounds.

“It’s sad because it’s the end of a long, long journey,” Persson said when addressing her final collegiate outing.

The program will be adding Katie Dunaway to its roster next semester, where the incoming freshman from Xavier Prep in Phoenix, Ariz., will compete for a spot on the traveling squad.

Dunaway led her team as captain to its 31st state title and placed sixth overall in Arizona’s state championship. The incoming freshman also placed second in the Tucson City Open and tied for eighth at the David Toms Shreveport Junior AJGA event.

Sutherland said he is excited about his new recruit and believes she will be able to make a smooth transition to the collegiate level of play.

The women said they know they will be competitive next year although the team dynamic might be different without Nichols and Persson, but looking ahead they hope to maintain the same team vibe they had this season.

“I think we’re pretty stable and we’ve got a lot of good players that give it their all on the team,” Sande said. “I think next year we’ll do just as good, if not better.”