BEAUMONT, Calif. - Posting the lowest team score in program history, Whitman College women's golf squad carded a 332 total on Tuesday to grab the first-round lead at the SoCal Dutch Invitational here at Oak Valley Golf Club.
Headed to today's second and final round, Whitman leads the University of Redlands by two strokes and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps by 11 shots.
Iowa's Central College, the host school for the spring break event, is in fourth place at 371, followed by Occidental College at 414.
Elaine Whaley and Katie Zajicek, two first-year players, both shot 82 to pace the young Missionaries.
Whaley was steady all day, shooting 40 on the front and 42 on the back. Zajicek finished with a 38 on the back nine after covering the first nine holes in 44.
Tate Head and Catelyn Webber rounded out Whitman's team score (top four) with matching scores of 84.
Head, a sophomore and Whitman's No. 1 player last year, and Webber, another first-year Missionary, posted identical sides of 42 and 42.
Caitlin Holland, Whitman's other sophomore returnee, went out in 41 and came back with a 45 for an 86 total.
After missing Sunday's one-day event at the nearby East Valley Golf Club because of illness, Holland finished her first nine of the spring in spectacular fashion, holing a shot from 160 yards away on the par-5 No. 9 hole for an eagle three.
"It was very encouraging to have our entire team finish within four shots of each other," Whitman coach Skip Molitor said.
"I was impressed with our ability to bounce back from Sunday's event, when our first competitive round of the spring was characterized by several bad holes and a wide range of scores."
"Taking the tournament lead after round one is a great opportunity for a young team to prepare itself to play well with a trophy on the line," Molitor said. "Redlands has some outstanding players, as does CMS, and we will have to play well in the final round to maintain our lead. Our ladies are excited to have a chance to bring home a championship trophy for perhaps the first time in program history."
Molitor commended Whaley for an "inspiring performance" on Tuesday that knocked 15 strokes off her score from Sunday's round.
"Katie continues to play the back nine as well as anyone on the course," he added. "Tate and Catelyn showed impressive consistency with their solid rounds, and it was amazing that Caitlin played so well three days after being sick."
Zajicek and Whaley are tied for third in the individual scoring after the first round.
Tracy Saracino and Hannah Durette, two Redlands players, shot rounds of 78 and 79 on Tuesday to lead the field.