Blog 200, 5/9/12 - Vikings Earn Berth at Nationals

Varelia; top Viking again.
At the end of a terrible front nine in which the team was a collective 11-over-par for the day, it looked like 2011 all over again for the Vikings. A place at the NCAA Division II National Championship was on the line but Western was going out, just like it did 12 months ago when a poor final round saw it drop from third to sixth. “It was an atrocious start,” admitted coach Steve Card.
But somehow WWU found something and with a three-under back-nine on the Gold Course at the Wigwam Resort in Phoenix, Ariz., they climbed back into fourth position - good enough for a spot in the field at the Cardinal Club in Louisville, Ky. May 15-19.
"Unlike last year when we couldn’t get it done, this time we did," said Card. “Our players didn’t let it get away, they actually went out and took it. I’m not focusing on how we started, but rather on how we got it done at the end. This team has played well all year long. They belong at the national championship.”
Western began the day in fifth place with a six-shot lead over Cal State Monterey Bay, the defending regional and national champion. Through nine holes, however, it had dropped to seventh as a rampaging Dixie State - ten-under through the first 12 holes - moved ahead. But that solid back nine saw the team complete the round on nine-over 297 and the tournament on 12-over 876. 
Close behind was host Grand Canyon which took the last qualifying place after finishing just a shot behind Western. Dixie State wound up in sixth on 886, while CSUMB was seventh on 889. At the top of the leaderboard, Cal State Stanislaus, which began the day fourth 10 strokes off the lead, came back to win the team title by four strokes with an even par 288 for a three-day total of 865. Chico State, the tournament leader each of the first two days, was runner-up, four strokes behind on 869, and Colorado Mines was third on 871.
Top man for the Vikings was the recently-named Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) Player of the Year Nick Varelia who shot 72 in the final round for a 54-hole total of even-par 216. The senior finished fifth in medalist play, seven behind winner Jim Knous of Colorado Mines. Dylan Goodwin tied for 12th on 218, Sandy Vaughan tied for 21st on 221, Craig Crawford was T29 on 224, and Jake Webb tied for 77th on 233.
Scores here.

Claire Rachor
In addition to Nick Varelia being named the GNAC Men's Player of the Year, Western's Claire Rachor was voted the women's Player of the Year. The junior from Bellingham won medalist honors at the conference championship two weeks ago when the Vikings won their fourth tournament of the 2011-2012 season. Rachor finished the season with a 77.3 scoring average. Varelia meanwhile was one of four Vikings named to the Conference first team; the others Craig Crawford, Jake Webb and Dylan Goodwin. Joining Rachor in the women's first team were Sophie Elstrott and Alex Taylor.
Men's coach Steve Card and women's coach Bo Stephan were named GNAC Coaches of the Year.

Congratulations to Ken Gunning who shot a career-best 74 to win last weekend's May Masters at Lake Padden. Ken, a Division 2 player, actually shot the best Gross score of the day beating Division 1's Jerry Dallas by a shot. Paul Berube won the Division 1 Net with a 70, while Mark Smith took Division 2 with a Net 66 and Brad Peterson Division 3 also with a 66.

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