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Courtesy: USF Athletics

Women's Golf Hits the Links on Labor Day

Courtesy: USF Athletics
          Release: 09/02/2012
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Event: Augustana Bakker Crossing Invitational

Where: Bakker Crossing (Sioux Falls, S.D.)

Field: USF, Augustana and Southwest Minnesota State

When:
Monday

Who to Watch:
The USF women’s golf team completed a five-round qualifier at four local courses to determine who would be named to the “travel 5” for the beginning of the 2012-13 season.

“Qualifying was a test and it come down to the very end,” said head women’s and men’s golf coach Jenny Coluccio.  “Our goal is to create a harder, more competitive practice than we will see in tournaments and we are close to accomplishing that goal.”

“Qualifying gave us the opportunity to see where the returners have improved, how the freshman fit in as well as the areas we need to work on as a team,” she added.
 
The Cougars’ "travel 5" includes four returners and one rookie: sophomore Tavia Rutherford (Bakersfield, Calif.), senior Kali Gottsleben (Watertown, S.D.), junior Davee Johnson (Burke, SD), sophomore Tia Nihart (Huron, S.D.) and true freshman Sara Swaney (Larkspur, Colo.).  

Did you know?

The young Cougars had an up-and-down 2011-12 season, with the highlights coming at the Bob Writz Invitational and the NSIC Women’s Golf Championship. At the Bob Writz, USF finished fourth out of 10 teams, while at the NSIC the Cougars were seventh out of 13 teams and 16 strokes behind Upper Iowa.

The squad’s solid finish at the NSIC event provided a confidence boost and much-needed experience for the underclassmen as they look ahead to 2012-13 and the Cougars’ first NCAA D-II and NSIC slate.

“While on paper we are still young, in reality the sophomores gained a lot of experience last year and I believe they are more battle tested than a typical sophomore would be,” Coluccio said. “Our team and program has matured in a lot of different ways over the last year and the women are certainly ready to push the limits for this year.”

Rutherford was the revelation last year; the freshman played all nine tournaments as a rookie and carded the Cougars’ lowest score in six of the events. The Golden State native also racked up five top-15 finishes, including an 81-78 at the Drury Lady Panther Shootout to place 14th in a field more than 100 players. Gottsleben was her usual reliable self all year long; the junior tallied three top-10 marks and fired a season-low round of 75 to finish eighth overall (75-78=153) at the Augustana Invite. The lone senior on this year’s team also shot an 84 in the final round of the NSIC Championship, good enough for 11th place overall.

The Cougars will certainly miss recent graduate Jordan Wilkinson, but Coach Coluccio is confident that the team can fill the former All-GPAC performer’s golf spikes.

“Each one of our women have been working hard all summer trying to improve their game; I think they’ll all take some responsibility for what we lost in Jordan,” she said.

Preview: The Cougars will open the season tomorrow at Bakker Crossing with a triangular against Southwest Minnesota State and Augustana College. SMSU took fourth at last season’s NSIC championship while the Vikings are the three-time defending NSIC champions.

“We are excited to start the season, it doesn’t matter who it is against!” Coluccio said. “Augustana has set a high standard in the NSIC and our team is ready to take on that challenge.”

In terms of goals for tomorrow and beyond, Coluccio has set the bar high for her young but talented squad.

“With the return of almost our entire team from last year and adding three freshmen to our depths, our goal is to finish higher and secure a berth to regionals,” she said.

“We have to continue to work harder than everyone else, and push each other in practice. We are good enough, now we have to execute.”

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