Chloe Nelson Places Third in Big Sky

April 19, 2006

Eastern Washington University freshman Chloe Nelson got around the golf course the past few days better than she got around campus on her bicycle.

Just five days after injuring her left hand and face in a crash on her bike, Nelson closed her freshman season with a third-place finish at the Big Sky Conference Golf Championship at Palm Valley Golf Club in Goodyear, Ariz.

Her finish was the second-best in school history as a young Eagle team finished the tournament strong in Wednesday's (April 19) final round to place fourth. The top five individuals were named to the all-tournament team.

Another EWU freshman, Eva Yoe, placed 10th as Eastern had two players finish in the top 10 for the fourth-straight year. Eastern finished third a year ago and second the previous two seasons. Montana won its first-ever league title, ending the three-year reign of Portland State.

Only Julie Gish, who was second in the tournament's first year in 1993, has had a better finish for an Eastern player other than Nelson. Coming to EWU this season from Las Vegas, Nev., Nelson closed the tournament with a one-over-par 73 after a pair of 75's the first two days.

"She laid down bunts for three-straight days," said Eagle head coach Marc Hughes of the effect of her injuries, which included a deep bruise in the palm of her left hand. "She put on an absolute clinic and fought her way around the golf course. She was swinging at only about 60 percent all week but putted very well."

Hughes said Nelson's biking mishap occurred when she was rushing down a hill on the EWU campus last Friday (April 14) on her way to catch the team's van to practice. She hit a curb and went over the handlebars, suffering abrasions on her nose and chin that caused Hughes to joke, "she looked like she had a goatee."

"She can golf, but she just doesn't know how to ride a bike," Hughes laughed. "We almost didn't take her because her hand was so mangled up."

"It was just a matter of will," Hughes added. "She willed her way around the golf course and played very well. And she's only a freshman. That says a lot about where we are going."

With a team that featured just two golfers with one year each of competing at the Big Sky Championship, the Eagles had the second-best round in the field with a 297 on Wednesday. Trailing the Grizzlies by 18 strokes entering the final round, Eastern finished 14 strokes behind Montana, six behind runner-up Northern Arizona and five behind third-place Sacramento State. The Eagles improved by 10 strokes over Portland State on the final day to take over fourth place by a single stroke.

"We finished on a strong note," said Hughes. "But we ended up in a hole without a ladder. We were too far back to make a run for the title. I'm proud of our players -- they could have thrown in the towel but they didn't do that."

With a seven-over-par three-round total of 223, Nelson finished four strokes behind medalist Jai Acharya of Montana. Yoe closed with a 76 to finish 11 strokes back with a 230. Sophomore Chelsey Lollar matched Nelson's 73 on Wednesday to finish 16th at 231.

Eastern's other competitors were juniors Katie Kofmehl (23rd at 234) and Sheena Prante (31st with a 238). Prante was eighth at last year's championship.

"We have everybody back for next year, and most of them back for two years," added Hughes. "That's a good sign. We had a lot more upside than downside at this tournament. We'll be strong next year -- this was a great learning experience for us."

Big Sky Championship
At Palm Valley Golf Club (Palms Course)
6,160 yards, Par 72

Team Scores
Place - Team - 1st - 2nd - 3rd - Total - Relation to Par

1. Montana 298-305-301=904 +40
2. Northern Arizona 308-296-308=912 +48
3. Sacramento State 308-310-295=913 +49
4. Eastern Washington 307-314-297=918 +54
5. Portland State 307-306-307=920 +56
6. Montana State 311-314-306=931 +67
7. Weber State 323-308-304=935 +71
8. Idaho State 322-323-313=958 +94

Top 10 Individuals
Place - Name, Team - 1st - 2nd - 3rd - Total - Relation to Par

1. Jasi Acharya, UM 73-75-71=219 +3
2. Krista Swanson, UM 74-74-74=222 +6
T3. Chloe Nelson, EWU 75-75-73=223 +7
T3. Ali Carter, NAU 76-71-76=223 +7
5. Kelly Gillum, MSU 70-76-79=225 +9
T6. Katie Higham, WSU 78-74-74=226 +10
T6. Heather LeMaster, SAC 74-82-70=226 +10
T6. Kayla Morinaga, PSU 78-76-72=226 +10
9. Sophia Choi, NAU 78-74-77=229 +13
T10. Haley Brown, PSU 77-77-76=230 +14
T10. Vicki Power, NAU 75-77-78=230 +14
T10. Eva Yoe, EWU 74-80-76=230 +14

Other EWU Competitors

T16. Chelsey Lollar 79-80-73=232 +16
T23. Katie Kofmehl 80-79-75=234 +18
31. Sheena Prante 79-81-78=238 +22

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