Golfers Hit the Links in Search of Another National Ranking
GEORGETOWN, Texas - With the new Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference in effect for the 2012-13 season it is more important than ever for Coach Dan Ruyle's teams to be in the Top 25 in the nation, thankfully for him he has just the talent to accomplish that again this season.
In the Golf World/NGCA Coaches' Top 25 Preseason Poll out at the end of August, the Southwestern women entered ranked 22nd in the nation while the men were just outside the top 25, receiving votes and are therefore already on the radar for a national ranking.
Ruyle returns four of his top five golfers from last season on both the men's and women's side and has added more fire power to the line-up to make them teams to contend with starting immediately this fall. On the women's side, Kelsey Coburn and Karissa Speck with lead the way as the top two. Speck finished second overall at the SCAC Conference Tournament last year, earning a First Team All-SCAC slot and was also selected to the NGCA All-Region team, but just missed out of the NCAA National Tournament. Coburn was a Second Team All-SCAC selection last year after coming in eighth place overall at the event. She averaged an 80.94 while Speck was just one stroke better with a 79.94. The pair combined for seven top ten finishes and should repeat the feat this season.
Also returning for the women is seasoned veteran senior Stephanie Scholer and sophomores Jenny Smith, Lauren Boone and Katie McCance. Scholer has been a vital part of the national tournament teams and Smith, Boone and McCance all earned ample experience last season to help the Pirates catapult back into the national scene.
Joining the large returning class are first-years Bernice Leonard, Keeley Coburn and Kelsey Coburn. Leonard has been a solid junior player, finishing tied for 24th at the 2012 5A State Tournament and is one of the top newcomers for the Pirates. The Coburns could also factor into the team this year after strong high school campaigns. "This is the biggest team I have ever had on the women's side with nine players to start the season," states Ruyle. "It is going to create some competition and the players are going to push each other and make each other stronger. I don't see any reason that we should not be a top ten team in the country."
The men also have a strong returning core of Joe Brandt, Cameron Button, James Charles, Jordan Cowart, Jack Sertich and Mikey Vaughan. Charles led the charge with an average 76.14 while Cowart was hot on his heels with a 76.62. Vaughan and Button were close behind with a 77.00 and 77.32 respectively. The quartet recorded 11 top ten finishes last season and will set the tone for the 2012-13 campaign. "The returners have been working really hard this summer and had some success in some summer collegiate events," shared Ruyle.
This season, a strong schedule and competing well all season are going to be the cornerstones for success for the men and women. Coach Ruyle planned a schedule where the Pirates will compete against nationally-ranked teams on a consistent basis, setting the stage for the all-important national ranking if they perform well consistently. "We have a really good schedule and are going to some really strong events," states Ruyle. "Having all these strong fields and tournaments is important since we are moving to Pool B (for post-season selection). Therefore, we need to play well so our national ranking stays high and we can get an at large invite to the national tournament."
The men and women open the fall season on September 10-11 in Seguin, Texas. The women will have a chance to prove their strength on October 14-16 at the Golf Week Preview in Destin, Florida. This invitation-only tournament boasts the top nationally-ranked teams from 2011-12 and could set the women up for a national tournament bid early in the season. The men face their chance much earlier, competing in the Tunica National in Tunica, Miss. on September 16-17 and again at the Royal Lakes Invitational on October 8-9.
"Every tournament is important to us this year since we don't have the conference tournament to fall back on," states Ruyle. "It is important that we play well every week and not just peak at the conference tournament as we have done at times in the past."
"It is going to be an exciting year but also very challenging. It is going to be a really tight competition and it should make for an interesting season."