A season of ups and downs heading into the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships
By Ethan Henry
After having over half of their season canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Western Washington University men’s golf team finally got to begin their season in early March.
The team started their season in Livermore, California, participating in the Nighthawk Invitational. Day one of the invitational saw the Western men’s team tie for first place, with junior Aidan Thain, finishing first among all golfers.
On day two, the Vikings took sole position of first place, winning an invitational for the first time since 2018.
The Vikings’ second tournament would take place in Dupont, Washington, March 22-23 at the Saint Martin’s West Regional Preview. At this tournament, Western would finish both days tied for third place, another top performance from the men’s golf team.
Among the successful Viking golfers was junior Brody Bonfilio, who was in the top 20 players at the tournament.
“It was good, I felt like I could have played a lot better,” said Bonfilio. “It doesn’t really matter to me, it’s more about the team.”
Bonfilio was not concerned about his placements in the tournaments because he likes to imagine every tournament is just going out and playing golf with your friends.
After the Vikings had two good tournaments, they were invited to the Redhawk Invitational. A tournament involving mostly Division I schools, such as University of Washington, Gonzaga University and Boise State University. There was excitement amongst the players to participate in a tournament with some bigger schools.
“It was pretty cool. I grew up playing against Division I guys in high school so I was kind of used to it, but I’ve never played in that big of a field where it was mainly D-I schools,” said sophomore Jordan Lee.
Although it was exciting, the Vikings struggled to compete with the other schools and finished 14th out of 15 teams. The Vikings would bounce back, however, Finishing 7th and then 6th in their next tournaments to close out their season.
For the Western men’s golf team, one key to success stood out among the rest, teamwork.
“Teamwork is huge, actually,” said Lee. Golf is generally an individual sport, but collegiate level golf requires a team. The Vikings travel with five players, and the highest four scores are recorded. “You don’t want to be that fifth guy, and even if you are, you want to be a low score so that you can help your teammates out,” said Lee.
Junior Devin Andrews, another golfer for the Vikings, also believes that good teamwork will help them put out a strong performance in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championship.
“Keeping each other playing and practicing and keeping that team camaraderie and keeping positive vibes going on with the team and I think we’ll be good for the playoffs,” said Andrews.
For many of these players, the GNAC Championship is the biggest event of the year.
“It’s an honor, and it’s exciting,” said Andrews. “We’re all excited for it.”
Head Coach Luke Bennett is also excited to participate in the upcoming tournament. “We have some fine-tuning to take care of, but looking forward to the GNAC Championships and the opportunity to compete for a conference title,” Bennett said.
The Vikings will be participating in the GNAC Championship on April 19-20th, their last major tournament before the NCAA D-II tournament in May.
Ethan Henry is a journalism student and sports reporter for The Front. He is reporting, covering and writing about the recent sports news for the WWU Vikings. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.