The Utah Valley University women's golf team finished its 2017 Western Athletic Conference Championship run with a pair of top-five finishers, as sophomore Ana Raga placed second overall while freshman Justine Lauer tied for fourth. With her runner-up finish, Raga was also named First Team All-WAC following the conclusion of the event.
Raga finished just one shot back of the individual champion from New Mexico State Pun Chanachai (76-70-73—219) to earn the second-place finish. After carding a pair of 73s during the tournament's first two rounds, Raga capped her 2017 WAC Championship outing with a 4-over-par 74 during Friday's final round to finish in second place with a school record 54-hole total of 220 (+10).
The Wolverine sophomore and native of Venezuela also tied atop the tournament in birdies with seven at the championship event, including two Friday. Raga's second-place finish also marks the best finish of her collegiate career.
The true freshman Lauer too posted a top-five finish at her first WAC Championship with a three-round total of 13-over-par 223. After recording scores of 75 and 76 during the event's first two rounds, Lauer responded by firing a 2-over 72 on Friday to tie for fourth. Lauer carded four birdies on the day en route recording her final-round 72.
The fourth-place finish is not only Lauer's best of her collegiate career, but her 223 also marks UVU's fourth-best 54-hole score in program history.
As a team, the Wolverines posted a fourth-place finish at the tightly contested 2017 WAC Championship with a three-round total of 75-over-par 915. UVU recorded scores of 313, 303 and 299 to place fourth but finished just eight strokes back of the now four-time defending champion New Mexico State Aggies (+67). The 915 marks the third-best 54-hole team score in school history, and Friday's final-round 299 was the fifth-best single-round score in program history and matched for the second-best score of the tournament.
"This team has been improving all year long, but particularly here in the spring. We have been getting better each time out, and we honestly didn't have one round where everybody played well at once but we had a lot of different contributors here and there," said UVU head coach Dr. Sue Nyhus. "Ana and Justine were huge for us. We weren't even sure Justine was going to be able to play this week due to an injury, so we were wonderfully surprised with how she performed. Ana's steady play has also really helped us. She is a true champion and will continue to have finishes like that.
"To be just eight shots back of the lead at the end of this event knowing that we left some out there just gives us hope for the future."
NM State won the tournament at 67-over par (309-297-301—907), while the host UMKC Kangaroos took second at 72-over (303-310-299—912) and Seattle U finished one stroke ahead of UVU for third at 74-over (308-307-299—914). CSU Bakersfield finished the event in fifth place at 82-over (310-307-305—922), while UT Rio Grande Valley took sixth (318-317-311—945) and Chicago State seventh (324-330-330—984).
Behind Raga and Lauer's impressive finishes, sophomore Carly Dehlin too had a strong final round to finish in the top 20 by tying for 17th place at 22-over par. After putting up scores of 81 and 76 during the tournament's first two rounds, Dehlin responded by carding a 5-over 75 on Friday to finish the event with a 22-over 232. The 2016 Second Team All-WAC performer finished with 14 pars on the day to rank second at the tournament in that category with a total of 36 pars.
Senior Kimberly Nyhus was next for UVU by capping her collegiate career with a tie for 33rd place at 35-over par. The four-year starter for the Wolverines put up a solid 8-over 78 on Friday to end her final event with a three-round total of 245 (85-82-78). Redshirt freshman Kaylee Shimizu rounded out Utah Valley's competitors at the tournament by tying for 35th place at 37-over par (84-78-85—247).
The 2017 WAC Championship was held at Indian Hills Country Club in Mission Hills, Kansas, and marks the conclusion of Utah Valley's 2016-17 campaign.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.