There is not one singular group that headlines Gonzaga women’s golf. Not a standout crop of a freshmen, an experienced senior class or rising sophomores and juniors who will carry the Zags to their goals. Rather, it’s a collective effort, led by both youth and experience.
On Sept. 24, the Zags finished their second tournament of the year, winning the two-day Coeur d’Alene Resort Collegiate Invitational. It was GU’s first team tournament win since April 2014. Three Bulldogs, senior Jesssica Mangrobang, freshman Alyssa Nguyen and sophomore Federica Torre, finished in the top 10.
“I don’t think the underclassman realized how big of a deal this was,” Nguyen said. “Our senior, Jessica, was talking about it and how far our team has come over the last couple of years.”
In their first tournament, they traveled to Pullman, Washington, to compete in the Washington State Cougar Cup, where they placed 13th overall.
“The most encouraging thing I saw was that our freshman are here to play,” head coach Brad Rickel said. “Not only are they good, they are here to play immediately and are just as good as anyone else on the team.”
GU saw a lot of success last year. Out of the nine tournaments it played, the Zags finished in the top 10 seven times, with three of those being top-five places.
These wins were led by sophomore Quynn Duong. Duong had four top-three finishes last year and was consistently one of the top scorers on the team.
“We are super young,” Rickel said. “We have two freshman and two sophomores on our starting five, one of which only played second semester.”
That player, Torre, is a transfer student from Italy.
“The language barrier has been difficult but once she gets on the course, she speaks golf and just plays really well,” Rickel said.
Despite their young age, Rickel is still optimistic.
“They are determined, they march in the same way,” he said. “We see that they’re young, but their talent level is really, really high.”
The two newest members are freshmen Cassie Kim and Nguyen. Rickel said they fit the mold of people who truly wanted to be Zags, and are both great golfers and students.
“Alyssa is a very accomplished junior golfer and has been really good in the Northwest,” Rickel said. “Cassie is more of a late bloomer. We saw potential in her and signed her thinking she might be good down the road, but this summer just blew up … a late bloomer who has already blossomed.”
The team’s current top scorer is Mangrobang, who placed well last year and has continued to improve at the start of this season.
She has also stepped into a higher-profile leadership position in her senior year.
“She has been a leader since day one,” Rickel said. “She has leadership qualities about her, not only in her work ethic, as she is not afraid to verbalize leadership.”
However, Mangrobang said leadership is easier when you grow close with your team.
“I feel like the team dynamic is really good, I feel like we have a good understanding of one another,” Mangrobang said. “It’s as if we are all on the same page like a family bond [rather] than a ranking. I don’t see them as ‘freshman’ or ‘sophomore.’ I just see them as ‘my teammate’ or ‘my friend’.”
Rickel has his goals set high for the season and expects continued development as the year progresses.
“This team is good enough to play themselves into the postseason,” Rickel said. “All we have to do is grow.”