UNC men win Big Sky Conference title and secure NCAA regional berth; DU women headed to San Antonio for regionals; several other locals extend season in women’s NCAA Div. I
By Gary Baines – 4/26/2023
With a national ranking in the 190s range, members of the University of Northern Colorado men’s golf team knew there was just one way left to extend their season.
Win the Big Sky Conference Championship this week in Prescott, Ariz.
So the Bears did just that, thus earning an automatic berth into the NCAA Division I regionals that will be contested May 15-17. They’ll learn their seeding — and where they’ll compete at regionals — on May 3.
Suffice it to say that UNC’s first team victory of the season — in fact, its first since 2019 — came at an opportune time. For the record, it was the Bears’ third men’s Big Sky title since 2018.
UNC, which finished second by a stroke to Weber State in last year’s Big Sky tournament, closed the deal this time, prevailing by seven strokes over runner-up Sacramento State in the six-team field.
Northern Colorado put threeplayers in the top four individually, with two of those finishers being Coloradans. Jack Castiglia of Lakewood notched his fourth top-10 showing in the Big Sky meet by placing runner-up at 2 under par for three rounds. A final-round 66 left Castiglia six strokes behind champion Casey Leebrick of Sacramento State.
Joining Castiglia in the top five for UNC were Yuze Zhang of China (third place) and TJ Shehee of Mead (fourth). Rounding out the team for the Bears were Gage Messingham of Arvada (13th) and Alessio Battista of Italy (15th).
Wednesday’s team victory was the first for Clayton Sikorski since becoming head coach of the UNC men’s team.
For all the scores from the men’s Big Sky tournament, CLICK HERE.
— DU San Antonio-Bound for Regionals: One Colorado-based women’s golf team, one individual and some local players competing for out-of-state programs learned on Wednesday where they’re headed for NCAA Division I regionals.
The University of Denver, which won the Summit League title for the eighth time on Tuesday, was seeded eighth out of the 12-team field in the San Antonio Region May 8-10. DU has earned automatic berths into NCAA regionals 18 of the last 19 years the tournaments have been held.
In all, 72 teams and 36 individuals not on those teams earned regional berths, which were announced on Golf Channel. From each of the six regionals, the top five team finishers and top individual not on those teams will advance to the NCAA national championship, set for May 19-24 in Scottsdale, Ariz.
As for others with strong Colorado ties who are headed to DI regionals:
— Lauren Lehigh of Loveland will be part of a New Mexico team that was seeded seventh in the San Antonio Region — the same one in which DU will compete. Lehigh, a quarterfinalist in the 2022 U.S. Women’s Amateur, has recorded three top-11 individual showings this season for the Mountain West Conference champions.
— Sofia Torres, a Colorado State University junior from Colombia, will compete as an individual at the regional in Westfield, Ind. Torres has posted six top-10 finishes this season, including an individual win at the Rainbow Wahine Invitational in October and a third place at last week’s Mountain West Conference Championship.
— Also in the field in Westfield, Ind., will be Oregon State, where Boulder resident Kelsey Webster is part of the team, seeded ninth for this event. It’s uncertain if Webster will be one of the Beavers’ top five for the tournament, but because a sixth player will travel as a substitute, if needed, the Coloradan will be on hand. Webster has competed in six tournaments this season, with a best showing of 17th place.
— Ashley Kozłowski of Littleton will tee it up with Purdue as the ninth seed in Raleigh, N.C. Regional. Kozlowski has had a solid season as a regular for the Boilermakers, recording four top-20 finishes, including placing runner-up in the Tulane Classic in February.
One Coloradan who saw her season end with the conference tournament was Leigha Devine of Windsor and Rutgers, a two-time CGA Women’s Player of the Year. Devine finished her season by placing fifth in the Big Ten Conference Championships, where she carded rounds of 72-74-69.
For all the women’s NCAA Division I regional fields, CLICK HERE.
About the Author: Gary Baines owns and operates ColoradoGolfJournal.com