Key Departures Leave University Of Victoria’s Men’s Roster With Holes To Fill After Championship Season

Zach Ryujin (L) & Cindy Koira (R) Are Being Looked To As Leaders For Their Respective Teams At The University Of Victoria This Year - BC Golf Photo

By Brad Ziemer, British Columbia Golf

The sweet memories of last spring’s national championship will always be there for Justin Clews, but these days the University of Victoria golf coach is focused on more pressing matters.

For starters, Clews has two rather significant holes to fill on the playing roster of his men’s team, which won its first national title since 2006 by capturing the Canadian University/College Golf Championship.

Two vital pieces of that championship team — team captain Robin Conlan and Liam Mosher — are gone and Clews acknowledges that they won’t be easily replaced.

North Vancouver’s Zach Ryujin of North Vancouver and Aiden Craig-Steele of Fort St. John, who were also key members of last year’s team, will be expected to step in and fill that leadership void.

“Aidan and Zach are basically seniors and are done after this tear,” Clews says.

“They will kind of steer the ship. Zach is team captain this year, we will be relying on him as our leader on the course. He brings a lot of good qualities to the team. He is excited to be here and knows he has a lot of younger players that look up to him. I think fulfilling the captain’s role will benefit him as a player and a person.”

Clews feels like his men’s team is fully capable of having another good year. It just may take some time for things to gel. "I think the guys will be good throughout the year, but it is going to be a little bit of a slower start,” he says.

Chase Basanta of Victoria is another returning member of last year’s championship squad and Clews has high hopes for new recruit Maguire Lines of Victoria. Second-year players Daniel Kirby of Woodstock, N.B., and Adam Tindle of Coquitlam will be expected to contribute this year after watching from the sidelines as freshmen last year.

The men opened their fall season with a second-place finish at the Battle at the Bear tourney hosted by UBC-Okanagan at Okanagan Golf Club in Kelowna.

Clews also coaches the Vikes’ women’s team. It is a young squad that has lost its best player, Sukriti Harjai, who was a first team NAIA All-American last season. “Losing Sukriti is tough because she was our most consistent player and was in contention at most events as an individual,” Clews says.

Second-year player Cindy Koira of Victoria and freshman Brynne Davies of Calgary are expected to be the Vikes’ No. 1 and No. 2 players. The Vikes’ women also finished second at the Battle at the Bear tourney, where Koira tied for second in the individual competition.

“As they gain experience I think the women are going to be stronger than last year,” Clews says. “I think we have more depth three through five, but I don’t think that is really going to show until probably late fall or early spring.”

Clews expects first-year player Mya Rowan of Sherwood Park to be a regular part of his starting five. Second-year player Lana Rummel of Victoria is also expected to be in the mix. “If I have Cindy, Brynne, Lana and Mya all kind of playing to what I think they can do, we will definitely be shooting under 310 (for a team score),” Clews says.

“I don’t know if we will be breaking 300 right away, but I feel that Cindy and Brynne should consistently be in the 70s. Last year, we only had one player who could do that. So those are positives.”

The UVic women play their second event of the season Sept. 18-19 at the SMU Bishop Women’s Invitational in Lacey, Wash. The men next see action Sept. 22-23 at the SMU Bishop Men’s Invitational and then play the WWU Men’s Fall Invitational Sept. 26-26 in Bellingham.

Both teams will compete in the Canada West Championship, which goes Oct. 2-3 at Ledgeview Golf Club in Abbotsford.