SIUE Women's Golf|
|New Faces Abound for Women's Golf
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville women's golf Coach Larry Bennett was very busy during the offseason. While on the recruiting circuit, he picked up eight new players to add to Spring Riley, the only returning golfer on the team for 2000.
Riley, from Salem, played most tournaments in 1999 as either the No. 1 or No. 2 golfer for the Cougars. Her 94.1 scoring average was the best on the team.
"She's always been a solid putter. She's not overly long but she keeps it in play," Bennett said. As the only junior and only returning golfer on the team, Bennett is "looking for her to be a team leader for the younger girls."
The only sophomore on the team is Nonie Ehlke, of Highland, Illinois. Ehlke played last year at Rend Lake Community College.
"She's got a year of college golf experience. We know we're a better team because of her coming in," Bennett said. "She's hitting the ball pretty well right now. She's been practicing all summer and she's ready to play."
Seven freshmen fill out the rest of the roster for the Cougars. For most tournaments, only five women are allowed to play per team. That means that there will be some competition for playing time among the women on the team.
"We finally have some competition for spots. It will be healthy for the team," Bennett said. "It will keep them focused and increase their desire."
Those battling for position are Brittany Auld, of Nashville; Katie Beyers, of Pana; Ashley Collum, of Iuka; Katie Farrell, of Princeton; Kacy Gruenkemeyer, of Salem; and Beth Gumbel, of Mahomet.
Auld was a four-sport varsity letterwinner at Nashville Community High School and was the golf team's Most Valuable Player in her junior and senior season. "Brittany is a tremendous athlete," Bennett said. "She has unlimited potential once she concentrates on golf."
Beyers also was a two-time MVP of her high school golf team, Pana High School. Bennett expects her to improve as she gets more golfing experience. "She has a lot of potential. She's only played a couple of years," Bennett said. "She could surprise some people with how much she improves during the year."
Collum is an early candidate to make the traveling squad after playing at No. 1 or No. 2 at Salem High School. "She keeps it in play and is always in position for par or bogey and keeps her score where it needs to be," Bennett said.
Farrell placed 27th in the state of Illinois last year for Princeton High School and has been playing tournament golf for seven years. Bennett said that she is very long off the tee, and will reach a lot of greens in regulation. "She can really pound the ball. Katie should be a force to reckon with soon. She might challenge for conference honors someday," Bennett said.
Gruenkemeyer played was a teammate of Collum's at Salem High School, where she was a captain and team MVP. "Kacy will be one of our mainstays for four years. She should be All-Conference by her senior year," Bennett said.
Gumbel also has been playing for only a couple of years, but Bennett has been impressed with her progress thus far. "She has a lot of potential. If she continues to improve like she has been, she'll be right in the hunt to travel," Bennett said.
With so many freshmen and new faces, Bennett is not about to make any predictions or set expectations too high.
"This is a rebuilding year. I just want to let them play and not put any pressure on them," Bennett said. "We have no real expectations at this point. We just want to gain some experience and keep improving."
The Cougars open up their season on September 1 at Owensboro, Ky. at the Kentucky Wesleyan Fall Invitational.
"We'll find out how good we are real quick. There are a lot of teams from our conference at that tournament," Bennett said.