Warren Friedrichs is closing in on three decades of coaching at Whitworth and his current men’s golf team ranks among his favorites.
“It has been a delightful team to coach,” said Friedrichs, who coached basketball from 1986-2001. “One of the easiest teams I’ve had in a while.”
The Pirates have achieved on the course, claiming a sixth Northwest Conference title in Friedrichs’ 11 seasons, and in the classroom. Friedrichs nominated and expects all five of his players to receive Golf Coaches Association of America Scholar Athlete awards.
So it’s par for the course that the Pirates will combine golf and academics this week at the NCAA Division III Championships at Grandover Resort in Greensboro, N.C. The Pirates are shooting for the highest finish in program history and mixing in an occasional final exam to boot. Unlike most of the 41 teams in the field, Whitworth is in finals week but some of the faculty allowed the golfers to take tests prior to leaving.
Whitworth wants to make its latest trip to nationals last as long as possible. The tournament begins Tuesday and the field will be trimmed to 15 after Wednesday’s round. The event wraps up with 18 holes on Thursday and Friday.
Whitworth has made the cut once in its last five trips, placing 23rd in 2007, when 24 teams advanced to the final 36 holes. The Pirates’ best finish was 21st in the 2013 championship.
Samson Martinez was a first-team All-Northwest Conference selection. Oliver Rudnicki and Lewiston High product Andrew Dodge made second team. Mt. Spokane graduates Austin Billeter and Tyler McQuilkin complete the lineup. All five are juniors.
“Samson and Oliver can go fairly low, and probably one to five it’s as good a team as we’ve sent,” Friedrichs said. “We had a strong team last year but didn’t quite get it done. A couple of kids got better and more mature and we won six of 10 tournaments. They surprised me.”
Rudnicki carries a 74.3 scoring average in 19 rounds this season, followed by Martinez’s 75.0.
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