Chemistry and coaching drive women’s golf team

Last week, the Sonoma State Women’s golf team finished sixth at the Dixie State Invitational at the Sand Hollow Golf Course tournament in Hurricane, Utah. Sonoma State tied with Cal State Monterey Bay. The team was finished +32 (608), 17 shots behind tournament champion California Baptist.

Senior Hayley Whitbeck carded rounds of 75 and 69. This lead her to tie for second place with three opponents. Sarah Kim of Dallas Baptist and Katie Perkins of Dixie State were Whitbeck’s matching players.

Whitbeck has been a strong player for the Sonoma Women’s golf program. During the 2013-2014 season, she once finished ninth of 72 participants at the St. Edwards Invitational, and her best round in that season was a 71 at the Sonoma State Invitational. 

The finalist was Sterling Hawkins of Academy Art. She scored a 72 and 69, which tallied her 3-under-par 141. 

“I feel as a team we did alright, although we struggled the first day, it was great to see us come back the second day,” said team captain Erin Martens.

The rest of the girls did not finish as strong as they intended, but some were still able to stand out. Sabrina Virtusio tied with six others for 23rd place. Samantha Oliva tied for 31st place. 

“This season I’m really focusing on my putting and just bringing my scoring average lower than last season,” said Oliva. Cristina Picariello tied for 35th spot. Martens tied for 40th place.

The team overall received 311-297—608, which helped place them in sixth place of the tournament.

“This season I am focusing on getting better each and every tournament to hopefully get back to nationals with my team,” said Martens.

Val Verhunce is an important aspect of the team, and has been head coach for about 14 seasons. He has led both the men’s and women’s teams to many championships.

“He runs our program. He’s a great leader and coach and this program is really lucky to have him,” said Oliva. 

Another important factor of the team is the team captain and chemistry. Martens, as a team captain is the one who is able to reach out to the team when the coaches are unable to. 

“I love helping everyone on my team and trying to motivate and push everyone to be the best they can be”, said Martens. 

The program is able manage a family bond throughout the players. They motivate each other through various struggles and push them to success at all levels.

Sonoma will host their annual Sonoma State Fall Invitational Oct.17-18 at Foxtail Golf Club in Rohnert Park. 

Hopefully with the home advantage on their side, the team will be able to place even higher.