The Nebraska women's golf team travels to Colorado to participate in the 2012 Golfweek Challenge at the Red Sky Golf Club.
The three-day, 54-hole event features 18 teams from 18 different conferences around the nation in one of the most powerful tournaments of the fall season. The teams will take aim at the par-72, 6,236-yard layout at Red Sky on Monday morning and will play single rounds each of the three days of the tournament.
Current Golfweek No. 1 UCLA (Pac-12) headlines an event that features nine of the nation's top-50 teams, including No. 25 Oklahoma (Big 12), No. 26 Pepperdine (West Coast), No. 29 Florida State (ACC), No. 31 UC Davis (Big West), No. 37 Tulsa (Conference USA), No. 38 Ole Miss (SEC), No. 44 Denver (Sun Belt) and No. 48 San Diego State (Mountain West). Campbell (Big South), East Tennessee State (Atlantic Sun), Furman (Southern), Georgia State (Colonial), Missouri State (Missouri Valley), San Jose State (WAC), UTSA (Southland) and South Florida (Big East) round out the tournament field along with the Huskers.
Coach Robin Krapfl will take a young Nebraska lineup to Colorado. Juniors Katelyn Wright and Steffi Neisen will play out of the top three spots, along with true freshman Cassie Deeg. Redshirt freshmen Morgan Smejkal and Jackie O'Doherty will complete the Husker contingent.
2012 Golfweek Challenge
Location: Wolcott, Colo. (Host: Denver)
Course: Red Sky Golf Club
Monday, Sept. 24 9:30 a.m. (central) - (18 holes)
Tuesday, Sept. 25 9:30 a.m. (central) - (18 holes)
Wednesday, Sept. 26 9:30 a.m. (central) - (18 holes)
1. Katelyn Wright
2. Cassie Deeg
3. Steffi Neisen
4. Morgan Smejkal
5. Jackie O'Doherty
The Golfweek Challenge Field (18 Teams)
Campbell, Denver, East Tennessee State, Florida State, Furman, Georgia State, Mississippi, Missouri State, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Pepperdine, San Diego State, San Jose State, South Florida, Texas-San Antonio, Tulsa, UC Davis, UCLA
Wright Leads Huskers at Chip-N Club Invitational
Katelyn Wright tied for 11th individually to lead the Nebraska women's golf team to a seventh-place finish at the Huskers' season-opening Chip-N Club Invitational at the Country Club of Lincoln, Sept. 10-11.
Wright, a junior from Incline Village, Nev., closed the tournament with a three-round total of 231 (76-76-79) on the par-72, 6,075-yard layout at the Country Club of Lincoln. She was joined in the top 25 by fellow junior Steffi Neisen (New Prague, Minn.), who tied for 21st with a 54-hole score of 237 (80-78-79).
NU redshirt freshman Morgan Smejkal also tied for 21st (80-77-80-237) while playing in the first collegiate tournament of her career. Smejkal, a native of Columbus, Neb., was one of five Huskers to complete the first tournaments of their college careers.
True freshman Cassie Deeg (Hugo, Minn.) finished in a tie for 36th at 243 (81-82-80), while redshirt freshman Jackie O'Doherty from Lincoln closed in the top half of the 84-player field by tying for 42nd at 246 (82-83-81).
Those five Huskers produced a final-round 318 to close with a three-round tournament score of 948. Redshirt freshman Cassidy Stelzmiller, who tied for 55th at 256 and true freshman Hannah Luebke, who tied for 60th at 257, also competed as individuals for NU.
"Our youth and our inexperience showed out on the course the past couple days," Nebraska Coach Robin Krapfl said. "But we also did some good things and we'll try to build on those as we continue our season. This was a starting point for us. We had five golfers play their first college rounds, so we know we have a lot of room to grow and get better."
SMU captured the Chip-N Club team title for the second straight season with a three-round score of 903. The Mustangs scorched the course at the Country Club for a tournament-best final-round 289. SMU freshman Alexandra Rossi led the charge on the final day with a tournament-best, four-under-par 68 to win the individual crown at 219 (70-81-68).
Rossi edged North Dakota State's Amy Anderson by two strokes. It was the second straight runner-up finish for the NDSU senior, who also won Chip-N Club medalist honors in 2009 and 2010. Anderson finished with a 54-hole score of 222 (74-73-74).
Missouri, who started the final round with a three-stroke lead over SMU, took runner-up honors with a three-round score of 918. Michelle Butler, who shot a solid 71 in the final round, led the Tigers by finishing third individually at 222 (74-77-71).
Neisen, Wright Expected to Lead Huskers in 2012-13
Returning starters Steffi Neisen and Katelyn Wright will 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., has been in the Husker 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.
"I think Steffi is ready and excited to be the leader of this team. In fact, I think she will thrive in this role," Krapfl said. "She has the personality and drive to be a role model for the younger players. We have been very fortunate the last two years to have great senior leadership for her to learn from and build on."
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 straight year.
"As a coach it is exciting when a player suddenly 'gets it' and starts blossoming in front of your eyes. We see that happening with Steffi," Krapfl said. "We have been telling her from day one how good she is and can become, and as her list of accomplishments grows, she is starting to believe."
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. In one three-tournament stretch, Wright averaged 75.77, including a career-best 218 at the Westbrook Invitational in Peoria, Ariz.
"At the Westbrook tournament Katelyn really showed what she is capable of doing and so much more," Krapfl said. "Katelyn is a dynamic player. When things are on, she is amazing to watch because she makes it look so easy. Katie has a beautiful golf swing with the length to be able to dominate the course.
"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. 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 Hoping to Make 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.
"All three redshirt freshmen worked extremely hard to expand their games and hone their skills," Krapfl said. "It is exciting to see players really take advantage of that year to work hard and improve."
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 Expected to Lead 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.The Nebraska women's golf team will be one of the youngest in the Big Ten and the nation in 2012-13.
Cassie Deeg could make an immediate impact. The Hugo, Minn., native captured the 2011 Minnesota state title while helping Stillwater Area High School to runner-up team finishes in both 2011 and 2012.
Deeg 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.
Yoorim Kang (Toronto, Ontario) and Abbie Hunke (Snyder, Neb.) round out the Husker true freshmen. Both could redshirt in 2012-13.
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 299 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans across all teams and all sports. NU also led the nation with 16 NCAA Top Eight Award winners.