Women’s golf team set for success next season

With returning stars and top recruits, golf looks to start strong in NCAA competition.

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Jason Lin/THE CHIMES [file]

Jason Lin/THE CHIMES [file]

Jason Lin/THE CHIMES [file]

Carter Baumgartner, Writer

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With the end of the 2017 spring season, Biola women’s golf sets their sights on the fall season. The Eagles will have plenty of experience, with eight of the nine members from the team returning. The team remains very young as next year, Biola will only have three upperclassmen: one junior and two seniors.

Unbridled potential

The Eagles’ spring season showed exactly how much potential the young team has. After two middle-of-the-pack finishes in the first two tournaments of the spring season, the Eagles managed to finish top three in two of the last three team tournaments to close the season. The last of those tournaments was the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics West Championships where Biola finished second, with every player on the team finishing in the top half of the leaderboard.

“I think that the team is getting better, and next year we’ll keep getting better and stronger, because we’re getting better girls,” said sophomore Mary Karnazes.

Biola will make the move to NCAA Division II next season, which means that their competition will be much tougher on a consistent basis. The Eagles have already gotten a taste of what NCAA competition will feel like with half of their tournaments last fall and spring season being against Division II opponents. The team struggled in those competitions with their best finish being sixth place out of eight teams at the Art of Golf Classic last September.

We put ourselves in primarily Division II team tournaments [this season] in preparation for moving to the NCAA and were finding ourselves in the middle of the pack,” said head coach Jane Carr. “This was a huge accomplishment and very encouraging to us as we are not even close to being funded in scholarships, operating budget or coaching staff like the teams that we were competing against.”

Hungry for success

Three current freshmen looking to lead the Eagles to Division II success include Alexis Gopfert, Tori Roeske and Jenny Zhang after the trio led the team this season. Between the three, they had two tournament victories, three top-five finishes and six top-10 finishes. Each golfer had an average round score of under 81. All of this occurred in their freshman year, and they only look to get better in their remaining years at Biola.

Our freshmen were hungry to travel and they really pushed our returners and each other this season,” Carr said. “I believe this will continue and we are only going to see more and more success from women’s golf.”

Newfound pressure

Biola recruited three-time all-league player Rachel Reynolds from Trabuco Hills High School and four-time all-league player Sophia Karnazes from La Costa Canyon High School. Reynolds was also the team MVP in her sophomore season. Sophia Karnazes joins her older sister Mary on the team.

“It’ll be very exciting,” Mary said. “It’ll be like high school, the Karnazes sisters again!”

The pressure on these incoming freshman will only increase next season for these athletes as they are the first freshman class at Biola to compete in NCAA competition. Biola’s only outgoing senior golfer, Amanda Hobbs, encouraged them.

“The spot at Biola was earned by them,” Hobbs said. “[They] are here for a reason, and [they] deserve a spot on the team.”

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Women’s golf team set for success next season