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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Western’s golfing success at GNAC Championships

Western women’s golf team took first place at GNAC Championships, the men’s team took second place

Viking Men's Golfer
Freshman Viking Men’s Golfer Drew Halili takes his first shot off the tee at the GNAC Championships during his first round of play. Halili finished second overall in the tournament, only three strokes behind the leader. // Photo courtesy of Ron Smith

By Lucas Bohannon

On April 20, the Western Washington University Viking’s men’s and women’s golf teams played the final round in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships. The Viking’s men’s team finished second among four teams, while the women’s were crowned champions of the event. 

Both teams were coming into the GNAC Championships off the back of a stellar regular season. The men came into this event ranked second in the GNAC and the women came into the event ranked first. 

Western’s men’s and women’s teams had to play three rounds of golf over a two day period. The men finished the first two rounds in third place, while the women finished in first place. 

For freshman women’s golfer Dani Bailey, the GNAC Championship was all about confidence.

“Every tournament I saw an increase in my confidence that changed a lot for me both on and off the course,” Bailey said. “After spending so much time with both male and girl golfers who are encouraging me to be my best self I have seen a dramatic change in myself.”  

Luke Bennett, the director of golf at Western spoke highly of the women’s team and their ability to fight hard for the win down the stretch.

“I am so proud of this team, with how hard they played from beginning to end and how they just battled in the final round,” Bennett said. “At one point [Northwest Nazarene University] closed the gap to two shots, but the team rose to the challenge and played fantastic golf down the stretch.”

The women’s golf team heads to the regional finals in Denton, Texas on May 3 on the back of an exceptional performance at the GNAC Championships. 

The Viking’s men’s team also played well but fell short to Saint Martin’s University Saints by two strokes. They ended the first round in third place among four teams, but were able to battle back in the final round. 

“The guys played inspiring golf today and really focused on their game and stayed patient all round,” Bennett said. “It was a total team effort to get in the mix for the championship, we just fell a few birdies short of completing the comeback.”

All five players for the men’s team contributed to the success of the team over the course of the tournament. Freshman Drew Halili led the Vikings with individual runner-up honors, finishing the tournament at 1-over-par. 

Sophomore Jordan Lee tied for second in the tournament with 11 birdies and finished fourth overall, while junior Brady Bonfilio, freshman Coady Oakes, and junior Devin Andrews finished in sixth, seventh and eighth respectively. 

The men’s team played the GNAC Championship without three-time GNAC player of the week Aidan Thain. Thain is the Vikings scoring average leader and although he did not play due to injury he is looking forward to competing in regionals. 

“The other tournaments this year have been great and I’ve had a good season so far. I’m looking to build on that and hopefully help our team make nationals,” Thain said. 

The men’s team heads to the regional tournament on May 6 and Thain believes that staying patient can help the team succeed. 

“Being confident in our game and just taking it one shot at a time is what we try and do,” Thain said. 

The Vikings will compete in the regional tournaments in hopes of qualifying for the NCAA Division II Championships. 

Lucas Bohannon is a third-year visual journalism student and reporter for The Front. His section is sports and Esports-related news. His writing has appeared in the Current for Green River College and his Twitter is @Kingg_Luke.

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