Dec. 20, 2012
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina and head women's golf coach Mallory Hetzel has signed three student-athletes to National Letters of Intent (NLI's) including one junior college transfer as well as a walk-on to complete the incoming class of four golfers entering for the 2013-14 season.
Junior college transfer Kim Mitchell (Woodbridge, Va./Sandhills Community College) is joined by Bethany Galloway (Charlotte, N.C./Ardrey Kell HS) and Olivia Landino (Hermitage, Pa./Heritage Academy (S.C.)) who all inked NLI's, with walk-on Ashley Thompson (Clyde, N.C./Pisgah HS) all set to play for the Catamounts beginning next fall.
"We are thrilled to welcome these four outstanding young women to our golf program," said Hetzel on her incoming class. "With this class joining those already in our program, we are now fully equipped to accomplish our goal of competing for Southern Conference championships and playing in the NCAA tournament. This is a competitive group and their impact will be felt immediately."
Kim Mitchell will come to Cullowhee after playing the 2012-13 season at Sandhills Community College in Pinehurst, N.C. This year, Sandhills has played in three NCAA Division I events including WCU's Great Smokies Intercollegiate at the Waynesville Inn, Golf Resort & Spa. Mitchell posted rounds of 74 and 73 to finish tied for 16th back in September of 2012. She additionally posted a 54-hole score of 234 (78-80-76), averaging 78.0 to finish tied for 22nd at the Fighting Camel Fall Classic.
Mitchell was the individual medalist at Sandhills' home tournament held at the Country Club of Whispering Pines. Overall, Mitchell ranks 11th in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) rankings as compiled by GolfStat with a 76.30 stroke average.
Mitchell, who will be a sophomore at WCU, is a native of Woodbridge, Va., where she played at Woodbridge HS. As a prep, Mitchell posted two fourth-place individual showings and a sixth-place finish on the International Junior Golf Tour (IJGT).
"Kim is a very unique talent," said Hetzel. "She is a natural athlete and can overpower most golf courses with her length. She is the ultimate team player. Her time at Sandhills Community College is giving her the opportunity to gain some valuable college golf experience."
Bethany Galloway has played her high school golf as a member of the boy's team at Ardrey Kell HS in Charlotte, N.C. She is currently ranked 13th in North Carolina on the junior girls ledgers. Galloway finished inside the top five at the North Carolina Junior Girls Championship back in June of 2012 before posting a top 10 showing at the Carolinas PGA Junior Championship in July of the same summer. The Charlotte native placed third at the TGF Sandhills Labor Day Championship and finished fourth at the 4-Tour Challenge back in October, 2012.
Galloway, who has shot two hole-in-ones during her lifetime, tallied a top 15 individual finish at the Trusted Choice Big "I" Junior Girls Classic. She is also a two-time club women's champion at Pine Lake Country Club, taking the title in both 2011 and 2012.
"Bethany is the type of player we want on our team; her energy is remarkable. She is mature, intelligent and most of all, driven to succeed. I am looking forward to helping her develop her game," Hetzel said.
Olivia Landino has played as a prep at the Heritage Academy in Hilton Head Island, S.C. She studies and plays with the Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy (IJGA). She ranks 70th overall in GolfWeek's Junior Girls Rankings and is the top-ranked golfer out of Pennsylvania, hailing from Hermitage, Pa.
Since January of 2011, Landino has placed on the podium seven times including four individual medalist honors and three runner-up finishes. In January, 2011, she won at the International Junior Golf Tour (IJGT) World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla., posting rounds of 70 and 75. That same month, finished as the runner-up at the IJGT event at Eagles Point in Bluffton, S.C., carding 75 and 73.
Back in her home state of Pennsylvania, Landino won back-to-back events at the Hershey Links in Hershey, Pa., (74-73) in April of 2011 and in the Hickory High Invitational in her hometown of Hermitage with a 18-hole score of 69 in an event held in August, 2011. Last September, Landino tallied runner-up finishes at the Low Country Open at Oldfield in Okatie, S.C., and at the IJGT event at Shipyard, following it up with a fourth individual championship at the IJGT Major at Hampton Hall where she carded rounds of even-par 72 and a seven-under par, 65.
"Landino is the complete package. She is long off the tee and very precise around the greens. She understands the importance of playing with poise and control. Her competitive spirit is second to none," said Hetzel.
Lastly, local talent Ashley Thompson has signed a NLI to play close to her hometown of Clyde, N.C. The Pisgah High product plays both golf and varsity girls basketball. On the links, Thompson currently ranks 16th in North Carolina's junior girls rankings.
Thompson is a four-time event individual medalist during her junior career including claiming the top spot at the Western North Carolina Junior Golf Association (WNCJGA) Skyview Junior in July of 2012. Later that month, Thompson also won both the WNCJGA Black Mountain Girls Junior event and WNCJGA Jane Marville Junior Championship held in Maggie Valley. Additionally, Thompson recorded a top five finish at the Tom Fazio Girls Junior in Hendersonville in June of 2012.
An All-Western North Carolina Athletic Conference (WNCAC) selection last fall, Thompson finished with a stroke average of 74.2 for 18-hole matches. She won the 1-A/2-A Western Regional tournament with a score of 77 and went on to place fifth at the state tournament a week later with a two-day total of 165, carding rounds of 79 and 86.
Thompson is tied with two other golfers for the lowest 18-hole round in North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) history with a 66, and is in sole possession of the 9-hole record (29). She carded those scores during a WNCAC match at Lake Junaluska Golf Course.
"Ashley is a great local product and we feel very lucky to have her joining the Catamount family next fall," said Hetzel. "She has proven herself in high school and she feels ready to test herself at the next level. A relative newcomer to competitive golf, I am excited to know Ashley's best golf is ahead of her."
Western Carolina women's golf team recorded three top 10 performances in the fall of 2012, and were led by true freshman Taylor Allison (76.50) and sophomore Maria Kjelldorff (78.25). The Catamounts return to the links in early March, traveling to Jacksonville, Fla., for the first of two events in the "Sunshine State" at the Eagle Landing Invitational, hosted by James Madison at the Eagle Landing Country Club.