Lady Beavers’ resilience on fairway lands them 22nd at nationals

Nako Raya during a practice session.
Nako Raya during a practice session.
OSU Athletics

Overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Carlsbad, California, just north of San Diego, the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa North Course patiently awaited 30 women’s golf teams ready to compete for a National Championship.

For the second straight year, Oregon State women’s golf punched their ticket to Nationals after securing fifth place at regionals.

The team finished 22nd overall and the final score accumulated over the weekend was 36-over 299-295-306—900 at the par-72.

“We made a good run the last day to (try) and push for the top 15 teams,” head coach Dawn Shockley said. “We had a couple struggles on our last finishing holes to keep us out, so it felt a lot better than 22nd.”

The Lady Beavers’ best tournament was in September at the Leadership and Golf Invitational at Chambers Bay Golf Course, University Place, Washington.

The team tied for third overall, with sophomore Kyra Ly tying for sixth.

“(We were) pretty successful in terms of all year,” Shockley said. “I think we had a bit of a struggle during our last few tournaments of the spring season. But then our team fired up and got ready for regionals.”

The team faced a few challenges this season, the most prevalent one having to do with half the roster confronted with injuries.

One of these players being Madde Sund, a junior from Sweden.

Sund managed to persevere, despite her lingering shoulder injury. After the season ended she immediately got surgery to ready her body for her senior season.

Despite the injuries, Shockley had faith the Lady Beavers were going to have a successful season.

Shockley has been with the program since the 2016-2017 season and has coached many unique groups, leading the school to seven straight regionals.

“(They’re) a really good group,” Shockley said. “Super cohesive, extremely fun, hardworking, and all the things as a coach that you hope to see in a team.”

The Lady Beavers excel outside of golf too. The team averaged a 3.83 GPA over the fall and winter terms while balancing 30-plus hours of community service a week.

“The gratitude for being out there to be able to compete for Oregon State is super special,” Shockley said. “There’s a ton to say about this group… It’s been fun, and when it can be fun and you’re still competitive, that’s when it’s a really cool experience.”

The team consists of four underclassmen on a roster of six, three of which are freshmen.

“Every year is different. One player can make a huge difference,” Shockley said. “The energy and camaraderie of our freshmen was just different.”

However, the comfortability that allowed the freshmen to blossom stemmed from Chayse Gomez’s leadership and welcoming energy.

“Chayse’s guidance and letting people be who they are is really what had this team excel and thrive,” Shockley said.

In her senior season, Gomez remained one of Oregon State’s steadiest golfers; breaking the single-season senior scoring average, (73.02).

Her best performance this season was at the Silverado Showdown on April 8, where she tied for 5th.

Gomez consistently fluttered above the top 30 in each tournament, paving the expectations for future Oregon State teams.

As we say goodbye to Gomez, she passes the torch to the team’s new superstar, freshman Raya Nakao from Kaneohe, Hawaii.

Nakao excelled in her first year as a Beav, shattering the Oregon State freshman and regular single-season record with a 72.05 average.

Even in a competitive division like the PAC-12, Nakao proved to be an outstanding golfer and was in contention for PAC-12 Freshman Golfer of the Year.

Nakao was a top 10 individual scorer in four tournaments this season, three of which she tied for fifth place.

“(Nakao) is just a very disciplined player,” Shockley said. “When she gets to practice she just works.”

Before there was Nakao, Kyra Ly made her bid as the Lady Beavers’ most outstanding freshman.

In her sophomore season, Kyra Ly improved her stroke average by 2.49, earned an individual tournament win at the Meadow Club Invitational in March, and received PAC-12 Golfer of the Week.

“Winning a tournament for us is huge,” Shockley said. “I think the strength of our schedule is pretty impressive so anytime you can get a win it’s always good.”

The summer before this season, Ly advanced to the quarter-finals in the US Women’s Amateur at Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles in August.

We can expect OSU women’s golf to continue to shine next season while they take on new opponents in the West Coast Conference.

Keep an eye out for the rising stars next year as we patiently wait for their finalized schedule to be realized for the upcoming 2024-2025 season.

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