Kalli Gordon will have some company with her when she goes to nationals this year. The Vancouver Island University Mariners golfer competed as an individual two years ago at the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association championships, but will be joined by the rest of her team next week in Quebec City.
It is the first time VIU has qualified the women's team for the national championships, with the program still in its infancy.
This will be Gordon's last chance, however.
"I am so excited to share the experience with my teammates; it's my last time, and their first time going to nationals," said the Parksville native in an email. "It feels a little bittersweet."
Joining her this year on the Mariners roster was Hannah Diamond, Marie Hohn and Chloe Elston.
Gordon has been at the forefront of the development at the program over the last few years. When she transferred in from the University of Victoria three years ago, she became just second female golfer at VIU.
This year, as a team, they finished second overall in the Pacific Western Athletic Association behind the University of Fraser Valley. VIU capped the season with a combined 337 at Chiliwack Golf and Country Club on Saturday, giving them an overall score of 1,000 for the season.
Gordon was second at the two-day tournament with a score of 162 (81-81-162), finishing six shots back of UFV's Dani Shap. The score was good enough for Gordon to finish third overall on the year with a 491 total, and grab a PacWest all-star spot.
She credits head coach Kevin Oates and athletic director Bruce Hunter for the work they've done to develop the program and getting her to VIU.
"Being a Mariner has been great," said Gordon. "Some may say it's really difficult to juggle being on a school team and your studies, but competing is really what I love to do and I am so thankful that VIU has given me that opportunity."
Oates says this has been a major building year for the program, and making nationals is a critical step forward.
"It was a goal that we set at the start of the year for our team to achieve that, and we like to think that the team only gets better from here on out," he said.
Hahn enters nationals as the No. 5 golfer in B.C., finishing with a combined score of 514, while Diamond came in eighth at 531.
Only the top two schools from each conference make it to nationals, and VIU will head in with the No. 4 rank in the country.
They will be competing on one of the oldest courses in the country, the Club De Golf Royal Quebec, in Quebec City. It is a mature course, with tight fairways, emphasizing accuracy off the tee. This should play right into the Mariners' wheelhouse.
It has them going in with expectations of medalling.
"It's a very nervous situation for a coach,," said Oates. "We don't want to get ahead of ourselves and think that we've already accomplished something. .. We want to prove to everybody that ranked us there that they were correct, or not correct by finishing higher than our ranking."
The championship runs Wednesday through Friday next week.
Golf NOTES - The VIU men finished third as a team on the weekend, but that was not good enough to improve from their fifth overall placing. Michael Hrabowych led the effort with a 2-under-140, good enough for fourth overall.
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