Feb. 29, 2012
Laramie, Wyo. -
The University of Wyoming women's golf team begins the spring portion of its 2011-12 schedule by traveling to Sedona, Ariz., for the Northern Arizona Red Rocks Invitational this weekend. Competition at the Oakcreek Country Club begins at 1 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. on Sunday with one round per day.
The Cowgirls will look to continue the momentum they built during a solid fall season into the spring. UW is coming off its first back-to-back top-three finishes under head coach Josey Stender after ending the fall season third at the Cowgirl Desert Intercollegiate and earning the same place at the Nevada Wolf Pack Classic. Wyoming claimed a total of five top-10 individual finishes in the last two events of the fall.
"We started practice again in January and tried to pick up from where we left off in the fall as far as being consistent with practices and setting goals," Stender said. "We want to keep developing that environment and culture of continually improving."
One Cowgirl that will be key to the success of Wyoming this spring will be senior Juanita Rico, who finished the fall placing third and sixth in the final two events. She begins the spring with the lowest stroke average of her career at 75.4 to rank seventh in the Mountain West and was UW's top finisher at all four events in the fall. Rico is a candidate for all-conference honors this spring.
"Placing well against some nationally-ranked players this spring will really add to Juanita's resume, but there is little to no room for error in this conference and she knows that," Stender said. "She played well this fall but needs to finish and seal the deal. In our tournament, she was in the lead with nine holes left and had one bad hole. She can make mistakes, but she has to manage those knowing that one or two shots can make the difference."
Rico will be pushed by sophomore Stacey Blunt, who also notched two top-10 finishes during the fall with a 77.8 stroke average, and freshman Samantha Stancato, who enters the spring third on the Cowgirl squad averaging 79.0 strokes per round.
"We were almost there last fall as far as getting a win individually and as a team," Stender said. "Playing in the final group in our last two events was huge for us, so we know what it feels like to be there. To be able to practice knowing you have the ability to be in that position is very beneficial for us."
UW plays in five events this spring before hosting the Wyoming Cowgirl Classic on April 9-11 in Chandler, Ariz., and concludes the 2011-12 season at the Mountain West Championship on April 20-22 in Phoenix, Ariz.
"We have a gradually tougher schedule this spring that should allow us to be in top physical and mental condition at the end of the season," Stender said. "Finishing in the top five at the conference tournament would be a great accomplishment for us. To do that we need to play how we know we can and not worry about how other teams are performing."