Women’s golf team looks for new leaders

Jonathan Lowe

Last year, the ISU women’s golf team looked to their experience for success on the course. This time around, it is youth that will be looked upon to lead the Cyclones.

With three members leaving due to graduation, the team’s success will likely rely on a class of talented and war-tested juniors.

“It’s hard to replace that experience,” said head coach Julie Manning of her departed class.

“We’re hoping to compete with some very hungry youth.”

Joining the team this year are freshman Louise Kenney and sophomore Cynthia Whitmore.

Kenney, who hails from Scotland, had success across the pond recently, finishing as a runner-up at last year’s European Under-21 Championships.

Whitmore transferred from the University of Northern Iowa, where she participated in three tournaments as a freshman.

With the new additions and departures of seniors Noel Jacobusse, Heather Elenbaas, and Cathy Ennis, Manning now has a team that is ready to prove themselves on the course.

The coach wants players like Sarah Gilbert and Leanne Owens to help the team return to their successes of a year ago.

“I think that some of [the players’] enthusiasm may help us get back to the place we were last year,” Manning said.

“I’m looking for Gilbert and Owens to step up and become leaders.”

Even though Gilbert competed in six tournaments and Owens played at the Big 12 championships last season, Manning puts the leadership role into the hands of junior Laura Wells.

The Scotland native had four top 10 overall finishes and led the team in scoring twice.

Wells will have to show the way for a depleted squad going into the first tournament of the year.

Sophomore Lisa Meshke, who competed in eight events a season ago, had back surgery after the Big 12 Championships and is still getting back on track.

Junior Erin Denefe will also miss time after hurting her wrist this past summer.

Manning remains optimistic, despite the setbacks.

“This is the smallest team I’ve ever had,” Manning said.

“[However,] with the injuries and the youth, this is the best situation for them because it’s made them a closer team. Once these players come back, it will be really wild to see who’ll qualify.”

Manning said that Meshke has walked with her teammates, being more of a cheerleader than a competitor. Once back in the lineup, Meshke has shown the form of being a high finisher on the leaderboard.

The coach believes that the one-two punch of Meshke and Wells could be very potent.

“I feel like we’ve got two of the best players in the country with Lisa and Laura,” Manning said.

Last year, the Cyclones tried to focus on improving their mental approach to the game.

The coach said that she sees a different theme for this year’s set of Cyclones to be aware of.

“I’m not as concerned with the mental competitiveness of this team [as I am] keeping them focused on the short game,” she said.

This year’s schedule will also be different for the Clones.

With stops that will involves teams in their region, the squad will have more opportunities to see their main competition.

“This is going to be the second year since they’ve changed the qualifications for us to get to regionals,” Manning said.

“We just weren’t able to change our schedule last year because we didn’t find out (about the change) until June.”

As the squad begins their season at the Nebraska Invitational on Sunday, their coach feels that doing well early on will be a key point to address.

“I think it’s important that they get off to a good start and it snowballs,” Manning said.

“We’re trying to really exentuate the high points and be much more optimistic.”