Women’s spring preview: Big Sky

Editor’s note: Over the next month, will be previewing every conference that has an automatic bid into the NCAA Regionals. For all of the women’s conference capsules, click here.

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Had Portland State won last year’s Big Sky Championship, it would have been the second time the team put together a three-year conference winning streak (the team won titles in 2003, ‘04 and ‘05). Still, with six titles in the past decade, Portland State is one of the dominant schools in the Big Sky, where a conference title is important because of the automatic qualifying spot into NCAA Regionals that it carries. No team is ranked inside the top 100 in this conference, so postseason depends on winning it.

Portland State’s program, however, is moving in the right direction. That starts with a challenging fall competition schedule. Without leaving the Northwest this fall, the Vikings entered three tournaments hosted by Pac-12 schools. It ended the season at the Edean Ihlanfeldt Invitational, hosted by top-ranked Washington. Portland State finished 13th of 16 teams that week, but finished ahead of two teams ranked inside the top 100 (San Francisco and Seattle).

“It is always great to play against better teams,” head coach Kathleen Takaishi said. “I think it motivates them to work harder and to get better.”

Even on difficult tracks like Trysting Tree Golf Club in Corvallis, Ore., and Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Wash., sophomore A Ram Choi managed to establish a scoring pace that could earn her the best scoring average in program history. She broke the single-round school record with a 67 at the Oregon State Invitational and won the Rose City Collegiate in October. Perhaps the most impressive part of the fall was her top-20 finish at the Edean Ihlanfeldt. Choi is playing her first season at Portland State after transferring from Washington.

While Choi led the team in three of four fall starts, freshman Kristin Henno was the low scorer at the Washington State Cougar Cup, where she recorded the first top 10 of her career.

Choi and Henno could be the next links in Portland State’s rich golf history – one that includes 12 tournament titles in the last 12 seasons. Lone senior Britney Yada also has been key in Portland State’s success.

“A Ram has competed in a lot of national tournaments which brings experience to our team,” Takaishi said. “Kristin had a great fall season, and I expect her to continue to play well this spring. Britney Yada is our lone senior that has been our leading scorer the past three years. I expect Yada to have a successful senior year.”

The women’s golf team has won more Big Sky Conference Championship titles than any other athletic program at Portland State. With some new blood like Choi and Henno, the Vikings should be right back on track to win more.

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Where it stands now

Top of the class: Northern Arizona

Best player in the fall: A. Ram Choi, Portland State

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Past champions

2008: Portland State

2009: Northern Arizona

2010: Portland State

2011: Portland State

2012: Northern Colorado

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Conference capsules

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