Eastern Returns to Arizona for Big Sky Championships

Hoping for continued improvement, the youthful Eagles play on the same course as their last tournament earlier this month

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Improvement both individually and as a team is the goal as a young Eastern Washington University women’s golf team concludes its 2009-10 season at the Big Sky Conference Championships April 19-21 at the Ocotillo Golf Resort in Chandler, Ariz.

Eastern is playing on the same course for the second-straight tournament. The Eagles finished 21st out of 23 teams at the University of Wyoming Cowgirl Classic, which concluded April 6.

"We hope to place in the middle of the pack at the conference tournament,” said head coach Brenda Howe. “The course we are playing suits us well and I think the girls have some confidence going into it. I feel as though we're improving around the greens and the pars are coming a little easier with shorter putts.”

A year ago, Eastern finished eighth at the league championships, but has just one returning golfer from that team. Junior Kellie Holmstedt finished 15th last season and will be seeking a top 10 finish this year that would earn her All-Big Sky Conference honors.

But both Holmstedt and the team will have to improve significantly if they are to achieve their goals. Holmstedt  finished 70th in the Cowgirl Classic, which included seven other Big Sky Conference schools. The only league foe Eastern finished ahead of was Idaho State, and there were 20 individuals from the BSC ahead of Holmstedt.

As a team, the Eagles finished 14 strokes behind Weber State, which was the sixth-best Big Sky finisher. The 10th-best player from a BSC school was six strokes better than Holmstedt. Howe said her team hopes to be consistent this time around, and improve upon the team’s top round of 225 and Holmstedt’s top individual round of 76.

“Kellie has her sights on a top 10 finish,” said Howe of the 2007 graduate of North Bend (Ore.) High School. “If she can put together three solid rounds, it's definitely within her reach. We had one round last week that was a little closer to our team score goal, and I think there should be a couple more next week.”

Eastern’s five-player contingent for the remainder of the season includes four freshmen and Holmstedt. Sophomore Kylie Ray recently had wrist surgery, an operation she was originally going to hold off having until the end of the season.

Holmstedt leads the Eagles this season with a 79.6 average in 17 rounds, followed by freshman Dana Stapleton with an 83.6 average. Freshman Jayme Carbon is next at 84.6 and Ray had an 85.5 average before her injury. Freshmen Morgan Lee and Neddy Martinez round out the squad with averages of 84.9 and 87.1, respectively.


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