Women’s Golf preview

Event: NCAA West Regional
Where: Colorado National Golf Club — Eerie, Colo.
When: Thursday through Saturday, all day
Who to Watch: Demi Runas has led the UC Davis women’s golf team all year and has shown no reason why that should change any time soon.
The junior just picked up Big West Player of the Year accolades, making it her third straight year to be recognized on the All-Big West first team.
This will be Runas’ third NCAA Regional appearance and she is still continuing to improve.
“This is her second straight year as conference player of the year, but she’s still very under the radar,” coach Anne Walker said. “She can be the number one player in the conference and the country if she plays with confidence.”
Did you know? Last year, the No. 22 ranked Aggies entered regionals with  No. 8 seed — their highest in Division I program history — and placed third out of the 24 team field.
UC Davis is treading very familiar ground this year as it brings an identical eighth seed and No. 23 ranking over to Colorado for the NCAA Division I West Regional.
Yet, only three players from last year’s squad are returning and the Aggies will bring a less experienced side of their game to this year’s regional tournament.
Preview: Fresh off its third Big West Conference Championship in a row, UC Davis is in full swing entering the NCAA Division I West Regional.
Of the five seasons the Aggies have competed at the Division I level, they have qualified for the regional field four times. This year’s success has been a product of contributions throughout the entire lineup.
Led by Walker, who was named Coach of the Year for the third straight season, junior Amy Simanton, sophomore Jessica Chulya and freshman Beverly Vatananugulkit grabbed All-Big West first team awards to join Runas. Vatananugulkit was named Freshman of the Year, while fellow first year Blair Lewis was given honorable mention in conference.
Stacked with an all-star lineup, the Aggies have proven they can perform well even out of conference competition. The young roster has shown little signs of nerves.
“Everyone’s built experience and we’re going to focus on the lessons we’ve learned throughout the year and put them into play,” Walker said. “Everyone’s got the tools they need to succeed, regardless of their year.”
The Aggies will not settle for simply a conference title — they are shooting for the top. Walker knows they will be facing stiff competition in Colorado.
“We’re going to have to play well with full commitment and trust every swing we take,” she said. “We have good enough players that can make it to the finals.”
The West Regional field features the No. 1 team in the nation — UCLA — followed by six other teams that are in the top 20 in the national rankings.
Should the Aggies place in the top eight teams in the Regional round, they would advance to the national finals, which will take place at Vanderbilt Legends Club in Franklin, Tennessee.

—Matthew Yuen

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