Courtesy of Big West Conference
Courtesy of Big West Conference

Women’s golf traveled to San Luis Obispo, Calif. and participated in the Big West Tournament from April 21-23. The team ended its year with a surprising fourth-place finish in the tournament.

The Highlanders showed their dedication and drive to win after starting off the tournament in seventh place with a score of 325. In the second round, the team buckled down and shot a 311 that moved them up one spot and then on the final day the team shot 304 for its fourth-place spot.

Coach Eric Riehle was asked about the team’s performance in the tournament and how they improved in each round. Riehle responded, “I couldn’t be more proud and pleased with the teams finish in this year’s Big West Conference Championship. Our team goal this week was to finish in fourth place, keeping in mind that the program had never finished in the top half of the conference since UC Riverside added women’s golf in 2001.” The last time the Highlanders finished in the top-five was in the 2007 season when UCR finished third.

The coach was very satisfied with how the team showed its competitive drive and the will to never run out of gas. “Even after an average first round, the team responded with focus and toughness and played two of their best rounds of the year under the most pressure that we have faced. As was the case most of this season we were lead by Top-15 finishes from Amelia Ek, Savannah Vilaubi and Brittani Ferraro,” Coach Riehle said.

The team’s top performers did not let the school down as they performed well at a high level of competitiveness. Ek started off slow in the first round, firing a 82 but came back in round two, shooting a 77 and then a 72 in the final round. Ek  finished with a combined score of 231 (82-77-72) to place 15th.

Vilaubi ended as the top competitor for the Highlanders, finishing tied for 10th with a score of 229 (77-74-78). Vilaubi was six strokes back from third place, which was held by UC Davis’ Beverly Vatananugulkit. Hannah Lee finished 34th with a score of 251 (88-83-80) and Christy Fogerty scored 252 (87-84-81) for 36th place.

The first year Coach Riehle had was a success. He reflected on his season saying, “[There were] several highs and very few lows. It was great to see the player progression beginning from our first few practices in September transitioned to the performances at the conference championship.”

“My goals as a coach were to get the program turned in the right direction, engage the players, and provide them with a great student athlete experience,” Riehle stated. “And I believe that our coaching staff did that. Everyone a part of UC Riverside golf is excited for the coming years.”