View Full Version : Womens' Golf to the NCAA Championships

Angelo Roncalli
04-29-2013, 10:24 PM
Congratulations to the GU womens' golf team, who received an at large berth to the NCAA golf championships today.

SPOKANE, Wash. (April 29, 2013 – http://www.gozags.com) – Gonzaga University’s women’s golf team will make its inaugural appearance in the NCAA Championship at the Central Regional hosted by the University of Oklahoma from May 9-11.

Gonzaga was selected to the 72-team field Monday after posting a 60-4 record this spring that included a second-place finish in the West Coast Conference Championship for the second time in three seasons.

“I’m happy for the kids who have worked so hard. It’s been a long go. From where we were to where we are is just very satisfying,” Gonzaga head coach Brad Rickel said.

Victoria Fallgren, one of two seniors on this year’s squad, was glad to see her career end with a bid.

“It was a little bit of a surprise because I don’t think we were expecting to see it under the Oklahoma regional, but it’s definitely exciting; there are some endorphins running and it’s been a long time coming,” Fallgren said.

Genavive ‘Genna’ Dodge, also a senior, relished in the excitement of seeing Gonzaga’s name appear on the screen.

“I screamed and jumped up like I was surprised, but at the same time we have worked really hard this year and it was kind of an expectation after these four years of hard work and the team improving every year. I was surprised definitely by the location, but I’m excited to see a new place and get the team there to get working,” the native of nearby Post Falls, Idaho, said.

Conference champions selected to the Central Regional to be played at the Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club are Duke University (Atlantic Coast Conference), UC Davis (Big West Conference), Coastal Carolina University (Big South Conference), Lamar University (Southland Conference), Illinois State University (Missouri Valley Conference), University of Detroit (Horizon League) and Butler University (Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference).

Joining the Zags as at-large teams are host Oklahoma, University of Florida, University of Washington, Arizona State University, Texas Tech University, North Carolina State University, Michigan State University, Iowa State University, Southern Methodist University, Campbell University, Wake Forest University, TCU, Indiana University, UTSA, Mississippi State University and the University of Wisconsin.

In addition, six at-large individuals will also join the field.

Rickel said while he expected to be sent to Stanford, being shipped to Oklahoma might actually be an advantage, considering the influx of West teams in the field.

“Actually, I was surprised. I thought we would go to Stanford,” Rickel said of his initial reaction when Gonzaga’s name appeared. “I think it might be better for us. We don’t have to play any West teams on a golf course they play all the time. We’ll go back and play those West teams on a golf course they maybe haven’t seen. I think it’s a positive for us. We’re surprised by it, but we’re excited to play a new golf course.”

Rickel never talked about the NCAA Tournament during the season, but there did come a point when he believed his team should be among the field, win or lose in the West Coast Conference Championship.

“I think it had to be once we won four of six tournaments at one point I felt we were solidly in,” Rickel recalled. “But you don’t want to leave it to someone else’s choice. You want to win your conference which we weren’t able to do. But I felt if we were not good enough to be in I don’t know what you have to do.”

Fallgren said the NCAA’s were never a topic among her teammates during the season.

“We never really talked about it. It was very hush hush. It was like we didn’t want to break the bubble and it was kind of a taboo topic. After conference we definitely started thinking we’re probably going to make it, but let’s not count our chickens before they hatch,” she laughed.

While the Bulldogs will be making their maiden voyage into the NCAA Regional, Rickel is no stranger. Rickel built the University of Idaho into one of the top programs on the West Coast. In 2007 the Vandal women captured the Western Athletic Conference title, placed 12th at the NCAA Regionals and had an individual advance to the NCAA Championship. The Vandals qualified either an individual or a team for the NCAA Regionals seven of the eight years he was at the helm of the men's and women's programs. The women earned regional qualifying in 2001 and 2002, with the men advancing to the Regionals in 2000 after capturing the Big West Conference title. The women won the Big West crown in 2001.

But Rickel views it as any other tournament.

“It’s just another golf tournament. Your golf ball doesn’t know where it is. If we just go and do what we do which is play the golf course to the best of our ability we’ll be just fine,” Rickel said.

For Dodge, it’s the culmination of road to recovery from a shoulder injury which may have threatened her golf career in the fall of 2011, sidelining her the entire fall season.

“It’s a great feeling. I wouldn’t have expected it. Back then I didn’t know if I’d get to play golf again. The fact my game came back and our team has been so successful I feel truly blessed and I’m finishing off really strong for Gonzaga,” Dodge said.

Gonzaga’s roster, from top to bottom, is no stranger to big time tournaments ranging from the Women’s Amateur Public Links Championships to the LPGA. Those experiences will help them in their approach to the NCAA event.

“Playing in large events, and even just playing in the events we played this spring being in the hunt and winning on a consistent basis this year, will help us just in terms of knowing we can do it,” said Fallgren, herself a veteran of two U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championships.

“We’re in unchartered territory for all of them, but they have played lots of big time golf. We were in the final group the final day six or seven times this year, so we’re not gong to crack under the pressure of it. We’ll go there and try to get ready and settle in as soon as we can,” Rickel said.

Rickel said although the course will be a new challenge, his team will be ready.

“We’ll probably do a little research before we leave. We’re going to have a great practice round. We’ll dissect it on every level and have meetings about it. We’ll know before we tee it up exactly how we as a team are going to attack it,” Rickel said of the preparation.

There are three 24-team regionals – the East Regional in Auburn, Ala., and the West Regional in Stanford, Calif. – with the top eight teams from each regional advancing to the NCAA Championship May 21-24 at the University of Georgia Golf Course in Athens, Ga.

GU's Regional:

1. Duke (Atlantic Coast Conference)
2. Oklahoma
3. Florida
4. Washington
5. Arizona State
6. UC Davis (Big West Conference)
7. Texas Tech
8. North Carolina State
9. Michigan State
10. Iowa State
11. Southern Methodist
12. Campbell
13. Coastal Carolina (Big South Conference)
14. Wake Forest
15. TCU
16. Gonzaga
17. Indiana
18. UTSA
19. Mississippi State
20. Wisconsin
21. Lamar (Southland Conference)
22. Illinois State (Missouri Valley Conference)
23. Detroit (Horizon League)
24. Butler (Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference)