Feb. 22, 2013
Cullowhee, N.C. -
The Western Carolina women's golf team plays the first of seven spring events beginning February 25-26 at the High Point University Classic, culminating with the annual Southern Conference Championship in mid-April in Hilton Head.
The High Point Panthers host their first-ever event with WCU head coach Mallory Hetzel adding the in-state tournament to the Catamount schedule during the winter break. The two-day, 54-hole tournament features eight teams including the host Panthers, Appalachian State, Elon, Gardner-Webb, Morehead State, Radford and Winthrop, as well as individual golfers from Wake Forest. The event will be held at the Willow Creek Golf Course at the High Point Country Club.
Through five events in the fall, the Catamounts were led by true freshman Taylor Allison, who claimed her first collegiate medalist honors at the Great Smokies Intercollegiate. The Elizabeth City, N.C., native averaged 76.50 strokes per round in the fall. Sophomore Maria Kjelldorff is second on the squad after the fall at 78.25, followed by freshman Mariah Hopkins (78.83) who paced the squad during her collegiate debut at the Golfweek Program Challenge, finishing tied for 24th.
Down to five players for the spring semester, WCU has one senior in Michelle Bello who averaged 79.92 strokes including her career-low round of 73 in the fall semester. Rounding out the Catamount side is a third rookie, Fatima Gonzales-Carriles (84.75) who played in three tournaments in the fall.
After the opening event in High Point, WCU's spring schedule continues in mid-March with back-to-back tournaments in the Sunshine State of Florida. The semester opens with a return to the Eagle Landing Invitational hosted by James Madison at the Eagle Landing Golf Club in Orange Park, Fla., March 8-10. WCU was 13th in the field a season ago. One week later, the Catamounts will play in the MSU Spring Ocala Invitational (March 17-19) in Ocala, Fla., hosted by Morehead State.
Both of the spring-opening events are 54-hole events featuring 18 holes a day over three rounds.
Rounding out the month of March is a trip to the Lowcountry Intercollegiate, hosted by Wofford College at the Moss Creek Golf Club on the South Course. It's the same venue at Hilton Head Island, S.C., that will be utilized for the conference championship April 14-16 with the title to be determined on the North Course. The Catamounts return to the tournament after a two-year hiatus after winning the first two team championships in event history as a co-host. WCU won the first event over Wofford in the spring of 2009 by six strokes before edging James Madison by two strokes a year later.
WCU's men's and women's squads will join forces for the University Cup, head-to-head challenge with rival Appalachian State at Mimosa Hills on March 28.
Less than a week later in the final tune-up before the conference finale, WCU returns to Mimosa Hills for the Mimosa Hills Intercollegiate, hosted by Appalachian State. Last year with the event counting five scores among six competing players, the Catamounts took top team honors in the individual and team competition, defeating team runner-up, ASU, by 16 strokes.
WCU gets underway with practice rounds at the High Point University Classic on Sunday, Feb. 24.