The Nebraska women's golf team opens its 2013 spring season at the Lady Puerto Rico Classic in Rio Mar, Puerto Rico, Feb. 10-12.
The Huskers will play three rounds over three days on the par-72, 6,191-yard layout of the The River Course (Greg Norman design) at the Rio Mar Beach Resort in a tournament hosted annually by Purdue. Nebraska's five-player lineup will take on a talented 15-team field in Puerto Rico that includes Big Ten brethren Purdue, Northwestern, Michigan and Indiana, along with SEC foes Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas and Kentucky. Iowa State and Texas Tech from the Big 12 join SMU, TCU, NC State and Kent State in rounding out a loaded tournament field.
The tournament will tee off on Sunday, Feb. 10, with 18 holes beginning at 6 a.m. (CT), before playing Monday's second round at 6 a.m. Tuesday's final round begins with a shotgun start at 5:30 a.m. (CT).
Katelyn Wright leads the Husker lineup. The junior from Incline Village, Nev., produced a pair of top-five finishes and four top-20 showings while producing a team-best 75.13 stroke average in the fall.
Cassie Deeg added three top-20 showings in the fall, including a 10th-place finish at the Missouri State/Payne Stewart Memorial. The true freshman from Hugo, Minn., ranked second among the Huskers with a 76.33 fall stroke average.
Junior Steffi Neisen added a 78.53 stroke average during the fall, while redshirt freshmen Morgan Smejkal (Columbus, Neb.) and Jackie O'Doherty (Lincoln, Neb.) were also regulars in the NU lineup in the first half of the Huskers' season.
Live scoring for the tournament will be available at GolfStat.com.
Lady Puerto Rico Classic
Location: Rio Mar, P.R.
Course: The River Course
Par-72, 6,191 Yards
Start Times (All Times Central)
Sunday, Feb. 10 - 6 a.m. (18 holes)
Monday, Feb. 11 - 6 a.m. (18 holes)
Tuesday, Feb. 12 - 5:30 a.m. (18 holes)
1. Katelyn Wright
2. Cassie Deeg
3. Steffi Neisen
4. Morgan Smejkal
5. Jackie O'Doherty
Lady Puerto Rico Classic (15 Teams)
Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Indiana, Iowa State, Kent State, Kentucky, Michigan, NC State, Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue, SMU, TCU, Texas Tech
Live Scoring: www.golfstat.com
Young Huskers Hoping for Strong Spring Campaign
Nebraska's young roster consists of three freshmen who will begin their first spring seasons in the Husker lineup in Puerto Rico.
True freshman Cassie Deeg produced a solid start to her first season at Nebraska by producing the team's No. 2 stroke average during the fall. The Hugo, Minn., native competed in all 15 rounds in the lineup, and produced a trio of top-20 finishes. Her 76.33 stroke average trailed only junior Katelyn Wright among the Huskers.
Redshirt freshmen Morgan Smejkal and Jackie O'Doherty joined Deeg, Wright and junior Steffi Neisen in Nebraska's top five throughout the fall. Smejkal managed an 81.00 stroke average over 15 rounds, including a tie for 21st at the Chip-N Club Invitational. O'Doherty produced an 81.53 average with a season-best tie for 41st at the Missouri State/Payne Stewart Memorial.
Wright produced a breakout fall campaign by leading the Huskers with four top-20 finishes. Her 75.13 stroke average was nearly four strokes better than her sophomore campaign when she played all 33 rounds for the Huskers.
Neisen is looking to return to the level of play she showed as a freshman and sophomore. Neisen has played in 80 consecutive rounds to open her career in the NU lineup, producing a 76.89 stroke average through her first two years. In the fall, she managed a 78.53 average.
Former Husker Sheils Earns Cactus Tour Win
Madeleine Sheils captured a tournament title in her first event as a professional golfer, winning the season-opening event at Club West on the Cactus Tour on Wednesday, Jan. 30.
The native of Boise, Idaho, fired three straight even-par rounds of 72 on the 6,077-yard layout at Club West to finish the 54-hole event at 216.
Sheils entered the final round in third place at 144, two shots back of Caitlin McCleary and one stroke behind Sadena Parks in a 23-player field. Sheils closed the tournament with a one-stroke victory over Parks, who managed a two-over 74 in the final round to take runner-up honors.
Sheils graduated from Nebraska in December of 2012, after competing as one of the top Huskers on the course for four seasons from 2009 through 2012. Prior to graduation she earned a spot in the final stage of qualifying at LPGA Q-School. She bypassed the final stage to graduate, but did secure her Symetra Tour card.
Wright Named Big Ten Golfer of the Week
After producing the best tournament performance of her career, Nebraska's Katelyn Wright captured her first Big Ten Golfer-of-the-Week award on Oct. 11.
The junior from Incline Village, Nev., carded a career-best 217 over three rounds on her way to a career-best tie for third at the Price's "Give 'Em Five" Invitational in Las Cruces, N.M., Oct. 8-10.
Wright opened the tournament by matching her career best with a 71 on the par-72, 6,319-yard layout of the New Mexico State Golf Course on Oct. 8. She added a second-round 74 on Oct. 9, before closing the tournament with an even-par 72 in the final round to finish at one-over-par for 54 holes. Her tie for third in a 76-player field marked her first career top-five finish.
Wright, who is in her third year in the Nebraska lineup, has shot 77 or better in 13 of her 15 rounds this season.
Neisen, Wright Expected to Lead Huskers in 2012-13
The Nebraska women's golf team is one of the youngest in the Big Ten and the nation in 2012-13. Returning starters Steffi Neisen and Katelyn Wright lead a nine-player Husker roster that is without any seniors. The remainder of the roster consists of seven freshmen, including four true freshmen and a trio of redshirts.
"This year looks to be a rebuilding year on paper, with only two returning starters and no other players with collegiate experience," Nebraska Coach Robin Krapfl said. "But the potential is there for us to become a pretty good team. Steffi and Katelyn will need to provide strong leadership on and off the golf course to help our young team grow and develop."
Neisen has plenty of experience to draw upon as she assumes the role of a leader. The junior from New Prague, Minn., was in the NU lineup for 65 consecutive rounds in her first two seasons. She completed her sophomore season with Nebraska's No. 2 stroke average (76.67) in 2011-12. Her year included a school-record round of 66 at the Mountain View Collegiate on March 23. She notched three top-10 tournament finishes on the year, including a tie for second at the Alamo Invitational, Oct. 30-Nov. 1, when she fired a career-best 214 over three rounds. She closed her second year in Nebraska's starting lineup by tying for 25th at the 2012 Big Ten Championships.
A standout in the classroom and in the community, Neisen was honored as a Big Ten Sportsmanship Award recipient, while also earning academic All-Big Ten honors. She also captured NGCA Scholastic All-America recognition for the second time.
Wright was also in the starting lineup throughout the 2011-12 campaign. The junior from Incline Village, Nev., competed in all 33 rounds for the Huskers and continued to shave strokes off her game as the season progressed. She started slow and battled some health issues in the fall, but came on strong in the spring.
"I'm really excited to see what Katelyn will do this year. She has the ability to not only be our most improved player, but also one of the most improved in the Big Ten," Krapfl said. "When you take a multi-sport athlete like Katie was, it takes a couple of years to catch up with those players who only played golf. But when that athlete breaks out, great things can happen. With Katie's work ethic, she has put in the time it takes and is ready to break out."
Redshirt Freshmen Making Impact in Second Seasons
Second-year Huskers Jackie O'Doherty, Morgan Smejkal and Cassidy Stelzmiller all redshirted in their first seasons in Nebraska's program in 2011-12.
O'Doherty and Smejkal competed in Nebraska's top five at each of the Huskers' fall tournaments, while Stelzmiller played as an individual outside NU's lineups three times this season.
O'Doherty, a two-time Nebraska Class A state champion at Lincoln East High School, was a three-time Class A all-state pick in golf. She was also a member of the 2011 Four State Team and the 2010 Nebraska Junior Golf All-Star Team. She was also a competitive swimmer and posted better than a 4.0 GPA at Lincoln East.
"Jackie is a a great student with a wonderful personality and a good work ethic. She has good length, a solid golf swing and possesses a strong competitive side," Krapfl said. "She is coming off a hand injury that had her sidelined much of the summer, but it may be a blessing in disguise because she was forced to only work on her short game. It is going to be a battle between the freshmen to see who emerges into a prominent role in the lineup, but I would not be surprised if Jackie captures one of those spots."
Smejkal, a Columbus, Neb., native, was a two-time Class A all-state selection and produced a pair of top-five finishes at the state tournament. She was also a member of the Nebraska Junior Golf All-Star Team in 2009 and 2010, and she was a member of the 2010 and 2011 Nebraska Four State Team. She was also an outstanding basketball player who set Columbus High's three-point record.
"Morgan was recruited as an athlete with potential to develop into a college-level golfer, and she has embraced that goal," Krapfl said. "We have had quite a few hard-working athletes in my tenure, and Morgan's work ethic is right up there with the best. You've got to love a kid who gives it her all in everything she does. Not only that, she has also embraced what being a great teammate is all about. Morgan has good length, is meticulous in her thought process and hates to lose. As soon as she can get away from thinking too much and just play, she could develop into one heck of a player."
Stelzmiller was a highly regarded recruit from Placerville, Calif., who had success as a junior player competing in several major events, including the Women's Trans.
"We headed into last season thinking Cassidy could help us right away, and even though I think she could have, I'm glad she elected to take the year off and develop her game. It is exciting to think of how far she can progress in the next four years," Krapfl said. "She has excellent length and a great touch on the greens. With a year of maturity, we are hoping for big things from Cassidy."
Deeg Leads Four True Freshmen on NU Roster
The final ingredients to Nebraska's 2012-13 team come from four true freshmen, including two international players. The freshmen will all be given an opportunity to compete for positions in the lineup.
Cassie Deeg has made an immediate impact. The Hugo, Minn., native owns three top-20 finishes, including a 10th-place showing at the Missouri State/Payne Stewart Memorial, Oct. 15-16.
Deeg captured the 2011 Minnesota state title while helping Stillwater Area High School to runner-up team finishes in both 2011 and 2012. She added a third-place individual Class 3A finish in 2012, and was also the Minnesota Women's Match Play runner-up.
Another true freshman with an excellent chance to contribute early is Hannah Luebke. One of the top young golfers in Germany, Luebke became the first European player to sign with the Huskers since Catha Fogelberg (Sweden) in 1997-98. A native of Stuttgart, Luebke is the second German to join the Huskers in history, following in the footsteps of Shirin Hornecker (Munich), who played for Nebraska from 1996 to 1998. Luebke finished second in the BWGW International Match Play and third at the German Youth National Championships. At 6-foot-1, Luebke was also an All-German performer as a middle blocker/outside hitter on the volleyball court in both 2009 and 2010. Luebke was limited during the fall by a back injury, but did compete in six rounds as an individual outside of NU's lineup. She managed an 83.00 stroke average over six rounds.
Huskers Continue to Set the Pace in the Classroom
Nebraska leads the nation with 61 NGCA Scholastic All-Americans since 1989, including two in 2012. Madeleine Sheils capped her outstanding career on and off the course as the fourth four-time NGCA Scholastic All-America award winner in Husker history. Sheils joined Jackie Beste, Allison Stewart and JC Stevenson as four-time Husker NGCA Scholastic All-Americans.
Sheils was joined on the 2012 NGCA Scholastic All-America squad for the second straight year by Steffi Neisen. The junior from New Prague, Minn., takes aim at her third straight award in 2013.
Overall, Nebraska owns one of the richest academic traditions in all of collegiate sports with a nation-leading 302 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans across all teams and all sports. NU also led the nation with 16 NCAA Top Eight Award winners.