Jessica Mangrobang finishes third
Zags remain in fourth
Only four players in field shoot below 80
Santoni and Mangrobang lead again
Francesca Santoni leads the Zags
Photos of Bianca Pagdanganan from the second round of the 2017 NCAA Championships in Sugar Grove, Ill.
Brad Rickel entered his 13th year at the helm of the Gonzaga women’s golf program in 2017-18.
Under Rickel, the Bulldogs have emerged as a power in the West Coast Conference and regular in the NCAA Tournament, earning team bids to an NCAA Regional in three of the past five years and seeing a Bulldog compete in the NCAA Championships for the first time ever last season. The women’s golf program is the first in Gonzaga history to earn three consecutive at-large bids to NCAA competition, and the Zags have finished second in the West Coast Conference in four of the previous seven seasons.
Since Rickel re-joined Gonzaga before the 2007-08 season, the Bulldogs have seen unprecedented success. They’ve won eight team tournament titles, four of which came during the 2012-13 season for a new school best. They’ve lowered the team’s stroke average in each of the last seven seasons to an all-time low in 2015-16, and their four top-2 and five top-3 finishes at the WCC Championships in the last seven years mark the best stretch the Zags have seen in conference action. Also under Rickel, three Bulldogs have won the conference’s individual title (Victoria Fallgren, 2012; Alice Kim, 2014; Ciera Min; 2016), the first individual WCC titles for Gonzaga golf, men’s or women’s.
Also a first in Gonzaga golf, Rickel coached Bianca Pagdanganan to the NCAA Championships during the 2015-16 season. The freshman earned an individual berth to the NCAA’s Bryan Regional, where Rickel helped her finish in a tie for eighth and in position to compete for a national title. She returned in 2016-17, earning a bid after finishing fourth at the Albuquerque, N.M. Regional. She set a school record at the NCAA Championships in Sugar Grove, Ill., finishing 66th. She highlighted the season by tying the NCAA single-round record with a 61 in her March tournament win at the Pizza Hut Lady Thunderbird Classic, where she also set a new school 36-hole record a 14-under.
Continuing with the individual accomplishments under Rickel, 19 Zags have earned All-WCC honors since 2009, accounting for over 80% of the program’s total All-Conference honorees. Additionally, a Bulldog has claimed medalist honors in 18 events since the 2007-08 season. In 2013, Rickel helped Raychelle Santos earn WCC Freshman of the Year honors, and Pagdanganan earned a share of the same award in 2016. He’s been recognized as the WCC’s top coach four times: each year from 2011 to 2014.
Rickel has re-written the Gonzaga record books during his time in Spokane. The school’s 13 lowest season individual scoring averages have come while he’s been the head coach, as have the 24 best one-round, two-round, and three-round individual scores. The team scoring records have similarly been changed; the 22 lowest individual team rounds have come from a Rickel-led squad, as did the lowest 21 two- and three-round scores.
Others are starting to take notice of the Gonzaga women’s golf’s rise to NCAA contention. During the 2013-14, the Zags earned Top 50 spots in both the GolfWeek and Golfstat polls before finishing the season ranked 49th by GolfWeek. In September 2014, Gonzaga saw its highest-ever ranking when GolfWeek tabbed them as No. 21 after the second tournament of the season.
Prior to his second stint at Gonzaga, Rickel built the Idaho golf programs into a Big West contender with the men winning the conference title in 2000 and the women the following year. He took three teams to NCAA Regionals and saw either a team or individual qualify for NCAA Regional action in seven of his eight years in Moscow. He also had 28 players earn First- or Second-Team All-Big West honors and five receive Academic All-American while coaching Idaho.
During the 1998-99 season, Rickel began his collegiate coaching career at Gonzaga. He headed both the men’s and women’s programs during his first stint at GU.
Rickel has also coached at the pro level, serving as the instructor for Spokane-born Ryan Benzel at the PGA Championship from 2007-10. He holds Class A PGA Professional status and has worked at both Manito Golf and Country Club and the Creek at Qualchan in Spokane.
His wife, Karen, is an associate professor and department chair in the Department of Sport and Physical Education at Gonzaga. They are the parents of Darby (2002) and Madison (2005).
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