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Bruins on a roll heading into NCAA tourney


Spearheaded by freshman Sydney Maluenda, George Fox wins five tourneys this spring

After losing national player of the year Kelsey Morrison and two-year starter Abby Mann, nobody knew quite what to expect from the George Fox women’s golf team this season.

Except for maybe head coach MaryJo McCloskey, that is.

Despite having a much younger lineup, the Bruins had some success in the fall, but were especially disappointed to place second to Whitman at the Northwest Conference Fall Classic in October.by: SETH GORDON - Rolling along - George Fox's Sydney Maluenda eyes a putt during the Northwest Conference Championships earlier this month. Maluenda and the Bruins got hot this spring, winning five tournaments en route to qualifying for the NCAA Championship, which got underway Tuesday.

But since returning to the links in March, George Fox has been on a tear, winning five of six tournaments, including the Northwest Conference championship two weeks ago, to head into this week’s NCAA Division III national championships as one of the hottest teams in the country.

“I knew this team had talent, I knew they were going to be good, it was just a matter of time as to when they were going to do it,” McCloskey said. “People were sort of doing it at different times, but then it’s just all flowed this spring. It’s been an amazing spring.”

Leading the charge has been freshman Sydney Maluenda, who has stepped into the No. 1 role vacated by Morrison with aplomb.

The native of Ewa Beach, Hawai’i, has won medalist honors five times in her rookie campaign and was named NWC player of the year.

Maluenda did not have the opportunity to play on a team in high school and has thrived on the cooperative spirit the McCloskey has fostered at GFU.

“It’s just a different dynamic being able to play for these girls,” Maluenda said. “It’s been the best part of my experience here.”

The lineup also features junior Loreece Magsanide, sophomores Melissa Nugent and Hailey Ostrom, and freshman Madison Perry.

Despite their relative youth and inexperience, the Bruins have been extremely calm and steady on the course, which has become a hallmark of McCloskey’s program.

“It’s been amazing,” McCloskey said. “That’s a big part of who we are and what I think has made the difference.”

Making its fifth consecutive appearance at nationals, GFU teed off for the first of four rounds at the Mission Inn Resort in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla., on Tuesday (results were unavailable at press time).