April 29, 2008
Marc Hughes, the head coach of the Eastern Washington University women's golf team, was named the Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year on Tuesday (April 29).
"Obviously, it's nice to be honored by your colleague as the best for a particular year, and I owe pretty much all of it to my team," Hughes said.
He guided the Eagles to an outstanding 2007-08 season, as Eastern Washington not only went 81-67 overall, but accumulated a 33-5 (.868 winning percentage) against Big Sky opposition.
Eastern Washington claimed two titles, the MDA Invitational from Sept. 24-25 and the Wyoming Cowgirl Classic from April 7-8, its first since the Eagles won the Inland Empire Collegiate title, played from Sept. 25-26, 2003.
Also, the Eagles won individual and team crowns at the same tournament for the first time ever when freshman Kristina Gargaro was the individual champion at the Wyoming Cowgirl Classic. It also marked the first individual title by an Eagle since Kelly Gardner won the Pilot Women's Invitational from April 5-6, 2004.
At the Big Sky Championship, the Eagles stormed back from a 14-stroke deficit on the back nine of the final round of play to close to within three before falling by that margin to Portland State, finishing third.
Additionally, three Eagles finished 1-2-3 on the all-time lowest round average for a single season in EWU annals: Chloe Nelson (76.56 - 2,067 strokes in 27 rounds), Marli Mikulecky (76.63 - 1,839 strokes in 24 rounds) and Gargaro (77.07 - 2,081 strokes in 27 rounds), respectively.
The Eagles had five of the top 11 golfers in the Big Sky. The league determines its All-Conference teams by utilizing Golfstat.com's rankings (1st-5th earn mention to the first team, 6th-10th to the second) and Eastern Washington saw golfers take up spots two (Mikulecky), three (Nelson), four (Gargaro), nine (Kellie Holmstedt) and 11 (Chelsey Lollar).
Incredibly, all five of those players earned Big Sky Golfer of the Week accolades, a first in league history (never before had even four players from the same team win honors). With Gargaro winning it twice, the talented quintet accumulated a total of six certificates, also a league mark (Portland State won five in 2005, all by Sarah Tiller).
"Chelsey was a great leader for me, Marli and Chloe did what they do best, play golf, and I got lucky with my freshman, Kellie and Kristina, who came in and played well for us and brought something to the chemistry that maybe we didn't have and that we needed," Hughes said. "They added something special to what was already a really good team, so I owe it (the award) to them; they make look really good."