Zajicek leads Whitman women golfers to invite win

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WALLA WALLA - Katie Zajicek and a resurgent Whitman College women's golf team ran away from the field on Sunday to win their own 36-hole invitational by 25 strokes.

Whitman, which led its nearest competitor by 15 strokes after Saturday's opening round at Veterans Memorial Golf Course, extended its final margin of victory by 10 strokes in Sunday's closing round at Wine Valley.

After shooting a school-record 313 team score Saturday, the Missionaries posted a 320 for its top four golfers on Sunday to capture the Whitman Invitational with a 633 total.

Zajicek led the way for Whitman in both rounds, following a 74 on Saturday with a 3-over 75 on Sunday to take medalist honors with a 149 total. The runner-up, Whitworth's Emily Guthrie, finished seven strokes back.

Whitworth (328-330 658) finished second in the team scoring with Linfield (638-637 675) taking third. Next in line were North Idaho (345-351 697), Warner Pacific (353-365 717) and Pacific (409-383 792). Lewis & Clark, with just three players completing, was unable to post a team score.

"What a great weekend for Whitman women's golf," Missionaries coach Skip Molitor said.

"To host our first tournament in Walla Walla (in a decade) and respond by shooting the lowest two rounds in our program's history was fantastic. Our team victory over conference rival Whitworth, a program presently ranked in Golfstats DIII Top 25, should be a significant confidence builder for our ladies."

Molitor said Zajicek's 36-hole score of 149 will be "one of the top performances on the west coast this fall.

"With personal tournament bests by Elaine Whaley, Sarah Debs, Tate Head, Catelyn Webber and Kelly Sweeney, it appears that our team is ready to take a quantum leap to begin competing at a national level."

Head, Tate and Debs shot in the low 80s on Sunday to finish in a three-way tie for fourth place at 161. Webber fired her second straight 81 to finish a stroke back at 162.

Sweeney had rounds of 82 and 83 for a 165 total. Also part of the top 10 were Whitworth's Liz Martin (79-84 163) and Linfield's Hannah Christianson (83-84 167).

Other Northwest Conference players near the top of the leaderboard were Linfield's Brinn Hovde (82-86 168), who tied for 11th, and Whitworth's Nicole Lomax (86-85 171), who finished 13th.

Whitman's Caitlin Holland (85-88 173) was part of a five-way tie for 14th that included Linfield's Sophie Corr (85-88 173) and Ali Smith (94-79 173) and Pacific's Emily Thorud (91-82 173).

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