SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — With all five players who combined to capture the 2017 Big West Conference championship back for another year, the Cal Poly women's golf team has high expectations for the 2017-18 campaign.
Four of the five will open the new season this weekend at the Rose City Collegiate hosted by Portland State at the Langdon Farms Golf Club in Aurora, Oregon.
A practice round will be held Sunday, with the first two rounds slated for Monday and the final round set for Tuesday.
Cal Poly won three tournaments before claiming the 2017 Big West title by one stroke over defending conference champion UC Riverside on the Highlanders' home course, Oak Quarry Golf Club.
Binns (fourth), Muehlbauer (seventh) and Gillaspy (10th) all placed in the top 10 to lead the way for third-year head coach Sofie Aagaard's Mustangs.
"We are entering this season with an experienced team, carrying five seniors, including the entire Big West championship lineup from the spring," said Aagaard. "New players joining this team are Caroline Cantlay and Sienna Scibird. They are both strong competitors who have seen great success on the junior level of competition. I believe they will both make a great impact and strengthen the team as we go through the season."
Gillaspy led the Mustangs in scoring average for the season at 75.4 with four top-10 finishes and eight rounds of par or better. Binns was next at 75.7 with five top-10 finishes and six rounds of par or better.
Bergland posted a 75.8 scoring average and won the Bobcat Desert Invitational, one of her three top-10 finishes. She recorded six rounds of par or better, including a 69 at the Big West championship.
Muehlbauer checked in with a 77.0 scoring average with three top-10 finishes and three rounds of par or better while Harada compiled a 77.7 average with a second-place finish in the Lady Mustang Invitational at Cypress Ridge Golf Course, thanks to an opening-round 69.
All except Muehlbauer are seniors this season. Bergland is No. 1 on the career scoring average list at 76.64 while Gillaspy is No. 2 at 76.78. Third is Binns with a 76.89 scoring average and Meuhlbauer is fourth at 77.0.
"This team has competed a lot and competed well together, so it is with excitement that we will enter stronger field tournaments this year in both the fall and the spring," said Aagaard. "The highlight on the schedule for the fall is Stanford's tournament in Monterey, Calif., and in the spring, we will be back competing here in San Luis Obispo at the Bruin-Wave."
Binns, Gillaspy, Harada and Muehlbauer will compete in the Rose City Collegiate this weekend, with senior Meridith Hirsch to replace Bergland in the lineup. Hirsch has compiled a 79.86 scoring average over 28 rounds in her Mustang career.
Thirteen teams will join Cal Poly in the Rose City Collegiate. They are Portland State, Nevada, Grand Canyon, Southern Utah, Northern Colorado, Texas-Rio Grande Valley, Montana State, Eastern Washington, Weber State, Idaho State, Simon Fraser, Western Washington and Concordia of Irvine.
Cal Poly last competed in the Rose City Collegiate during the 2013-14 season, finishing in a tie for 10th place. Taylor Yoshitake was the top Mustang finisher, in a tie for 17th place.
Also on the roster is sophomore Tiffany Cha, who averaged 79.0 strokes per round competing in a pair of tournaments as an individual during her freshman year.
In addition to the event in Oregon this fall, Cal Poly will compete in tournaments at Highlands Ranch Golf Club in Denver and Poppy Hills Golf Course on the Monterey Peninsula before wrapping up the fall schedule Oct. 28-29 with the Cal Poly Invitational at Cypress Ridge Golf Course.
The spring schedule includes the Juli Inkster Spartan Invitational at the Almaden Golf and Country Club in San Jose, the Bruin-Wave Invitational at the San Luis Obispo Country Club, the Meadow Club Invitational at the Meadow Club in Fairfax, Calif., and the Anuenue Spring Break Classic at the Kapalua Resort Bay Course in Lahaina, Maui, Hawai'i, leading up to the Big West Conference Championship from April 15-17 at Strawberry Farms Golf Course in Irvine.
"We are of course looking forward to defending the Big West Conference title in April at Irvine, and I truly believe that the tournaments leading up to the championship will prepare these student-athletes for a possible repeat," said Aagaard.