May 11, 2008–UNLV freshman sensation Therese Koelbaek tied for medalist honors and the Rebel women's golf team finished third at the NCAA West Regional, which wrapped up Saturday at Lincoln Hills Golf Club. The third-place finish by the Rebels ensured the squad of their third trip to the NCAA Championships, as they finished with a 54-hole total of 879 (288-290-301, +15). The top eight teams and top two individuals not on qualifying teams from each regional advanced to the NCAA Championships, scheduled for May 20-23 at the Championship Course in Albuquerque, N.M. UNLV's last trip to the NCAA Championships was in 2006, and the Rebels finished 22nd overall. In their first trip, the Rebels finished 21st at the 2004 national tournament. "We are so excited to be heading to Albuquerque," UNLV head coach Missy Ringler said. "That was obviously the goal we set at the beginning of the year and to see it become a reality is so great. I am so proud of these girls. They have worked so hard."
Koelbaek carried a three-stroke lead into today's final round, and although she shot a one-over par 73, her cushion was still big enough for her to finish with a three-round total of 210 (69-68-73, -6). Koelbaek tied with Alison Walshe of Arizona for top individual honors. Koelbaek's six-under par total is a UNLV record for low tournament to par, and her total of 210 was the lowest by a Rebel at an NCAA regional event and the second-lowest total overall in program history.
Koelbaek is just the second Rebel to win medalist honors at a NCAA regional event, joining Sunny Oh, who earned top honors at the 2003 NCAA West Regional.
"Therese's play has been outstanding," Ringler said. "Every tournament she has played, she has gained more confidence each time out. It is great to see her playing so well, especially for a freshman."
USC, the top-ranked team in the country in the latest Golfweek rankings, ran away with the team title with a score of 855 (-9), good for a 15-stroke victory over Arizona State, which finished second with a total of 870 (+6). UNLV was next, followed by Arizona 880 (+16) in fourth, while Oklahoma State and Arkansas tied for fifth with scores of 882 (+18).
Rebel senior Tonya Choate and sophomore Natasha Krishna finished in the top 40 among a field that featured 21 teams and 108 individuals. Choate, who transferred to UNLV at the beginning of the year, finished tied for 30th with a score of 222 (74-70-78, +6). Krishna was just a stroke behind and tied for 35th with a total of 223 (71-78-74, +7).
This was the sixth-straight NCAA Regional appearance for the Rebels in the seven-year history of the program, all of which have come with Ringler as their head coach. UNLV's highest finish in a NCAA Regional tournament came in 2004, when the Rebels finished second in the East Regional to Duke.