Laramie, Wyo. -
The University of Wyoming women's golf team opens the fall portion of its 2012-13 season at the CSU Ptarmigan Ram Fall Classic on Monday and Tuesday in Fort Collins. Colo. Competition at the Ptarmigan Country Club starts at 8:30 a.m. each day, with two rounds on Monday and one on Tuesday. Fans can follow live stats through GolfStat.com.
Colorado State's home tournament will feature six Mountain West teams and four programs ranked in the top 41 of Golf World's preseason coaches poll. The event should provide a good early assessment of a Cowgirl team that excelled last season, but lost its top player in Juanita Rico to graduation. Head coach Josey Stender returns four of her top five from last season's MW Championship and will coach a 2012-13 squad with one senior, two juniors, two sophomores and one redshirt freshman in addition to three accomplished freshmen who join the Cowgirls.
"Without a doubt the competitiveness within this team will be even better than last year," Stender said. "When you graduate a player like Juanita, there is a lot of unknown left for who is going to fill her shoes. At this point it could be anyone. A lot of our players had career bests last season, so it's up for grabs at this point."
Stender pointed out senior Dana Zamprelli has the best potential to assume the Cowgirls' top spot. She finished in UW's top two in five tournaments last season, including two top-25 finishes and a career-low round of 71 (-1). Junior Emily Wood should also be a solid contributor for Wyoming this fall, with several breakout performances last spring under her belt. She fired a career low 73 (+1) twice during one event. UW also returns sophomore Samantha Stancato after a solid first season in the program and junior Stacey Blunt who shined during last fall's tournaments.
"The dynamic of the team will be totally different this season," Stender said. "Our four returners each had moments of greatness last season, and when you combine that with our three talented freshmen, we could be pretty competitive as a group. We have a great mix of experience and youth."
The incoming class of Tyler Barker, Kathleen Kershisnik and Kourtney Williams is Stender's most highly touted in recent memory. Each excelled during their prep careers and at the amateur level in their respective states of Idaho, Colorado and Minnesota.
"What's exciting about this year's team is that the lineup from one tournament to the next could be totally different," Stender said. "We have players that know what to do and what to expect and then players that want to prove themselves. They are all striving for the same thing, but have different motivation."
The Cowgirls will have plenty of chances to test themselves with several new tournaments on the schedule this season, including hosting a tournament in the fall and spring.
"We have an extremely tough schedule this year from the teams we will see to the courses we will play on," Stender said. "I told our girls we wouldn't be invited to these tournaments if we didn't have the talent to compete. We earned our way into these tournaments with our play the last couple seasons."