Young Sagehens Swing to the Top in Fall Season

At the first competition of Pomona-Pitzer women’s golf this season, Priscilla Ki PO ’21 and Gabrielle Herzig PO ’21 proved they were no strangers to the golf course. Ki and Herzig came in as the highest ranking Sagehens at the California State Championship on Sept. 18-19, boosting the team to a fifth-place finish out of 11 teams.

The following weekend of Sept. 23-24, the team continued their strong showing by taking fourth at the CMS Invite at Los Serranos, a mere four strokes behind Occidental.

Ki and Herzig finished in 11th and 16th overall at the State Championship with scores of 152 and 156, respectively – marks that, for some of the team's newest Sagehens, promise a successful P-P golf career. Following behind them was Andi Chaloult PO ’20, who ended in 28th overall with a slightly higher score of 161.

Coming from high school golf, Ki was encouraged by the high level of support coming from her team and coaches. “I was not as nervous at my first college tournament as my first individual tournament four years ago because I knew that I was not alone,” she said. She also appreciated the support radiating from other teams’ players at the competition compared to “the reserved, super serious players” she has competed with in the past.

At the CMS Invite, Herzig ended as the runner-up with a score of 153. She was especially happy with her performance of shooting a 75 on Saturday and hopes to continue working on “pitching and chipping” on her short game.

Joining Herzig in the top ten was teammate Chaloult in sixth with a score of 159. Victoria Vardenega PO ’18 and Kaitlin Robertson PO '21 also ended up in the top 20, placing 14th and 16th with scores of 170 and 172, respectively. While shooting a solid score of 79 in round one on Saturday, an injury forced Ki to withdraw from competing on Sunday.

According to Chaloult, the team’s scores in the first tournament improved overall from last year. “Our freshmen set the bar, and it is really encouraging that an 82 was the highest score that counted towards our team total,” she said.

As a returning golfer, Chaloult was extremely proud of her new teammates’ results in these first two competitions and values the “hard work, enthusiasm, and power” that they have brought to the team.

Since golf is a two season sport, Vardenega noted that these events were essentially pre-season competitions. Therefore, she was hesitant “to put any value judgement on them.” Seeing the success of some of the younger members of the team, she said, “I do feel that some good scores were shot and that we can only shoot lower from here!”

With two players abroad, the women’s team is currently comprised of five players, including three freshmen. Despite the low headcount, Ki and Herzig agreed that traveling and competing as a team have made their first experiences as Sagehens enjoyable and are excited for what the spring season will hold.

As a senior, Vardenega looks back at her years as a Sagehen golfer fondly, recalling the bonds formed with her teammates when staying at hotels, during “late night boba runs,” and at Disneyland. “I remember those moments even more so than any score,” she said.

After studying abroad in South Korea and not playing for over half a year, Vardenega has found it “hard to get back into the swing of things.” Vardenega finished third in last season's spring 2017 SCIAC championships and now hopes that the team can win the SCIAC Championships in April and qualify for nationals. Thus, she aims to “shoot some scores that [the team] can use for [their] tournaments” once the spring season comes around.

With this goal in mind, she emphasized the importance of her team being able to “shoot consistent averages and keep [their] cool regardless of the difficulty of the course.” She is confident in the level of “talent and determination” of her teammates, citing that the team’s scores and ranking have gotten “lower and lower” every year.

Chaloult hopes that the team will maintain “clear communication” and boost “accountability among each other” as they move toward the spring season.

The P-P women’s golf team will return to competitions in mid-February with a season-opener at the Maurice Walker Championship.