ISU women’s golfers ready to tee off

Jonathan Lowe

Julie Manning might be in her 16th season as head coach of the ISU women’s golf team, but she doesn’t express it when talking about the upcoming season. “I feel like a renewed, fresh coach coming out of the chute because of so many new and exciting things that are happening for us,” Manning said. Part of the excitement for Coach Manning is this year’s golf squad, which features a solid core of senior leadership and an abundance of young talent. “We brought in great freshmen and everybody’s game has improved,” said senior Heather Elenbaas. “I am looking to my seniors for great leadership on and off the golf course,” said Manning. She also expects the underclassmen to give the seniors all that they can handle, which is not necessarily a bad thing. “It perpetuates a very competitive situation and everybody’s on their game,” she said. Like other schools around the country, ISU’s roster includes some top players from other nations, including Scotland’s Laura Wells and Canada’s Claire Stephanson. Although she is just a sophomore, Wells is seen as one of the leaders of the team. “We’re very excited about the way she’s playing and her whole approach to each round of golf she plays,” Manning said. “She has that air of confidence about her,” Elenbaas said. “She’s confident that when she steps up she’s going to shoot a good number.” Stephanson brings a lot of experience into her freshman season and is thrilled to be playing continuously with competition from the United States. “I love playing for college golf already and I’ve only been here for two weeks,” she said. “Just practicing every day and getting instruction from the coaches has given me the opportunity to become a better golfer.” One point that this team was not excited about was how they played during the late rounds of tournaments last year. “A lot of it is going to be mental for us,” Elenbaas said. “We hit the ball as well, if not better, than all the teams that we face, but they are mentally stronger.” “We have to be able to play three rounds of golf,” Manning said. “We have a tendency to have our middle round be our best round. That tells me that we aren’t going into the tournament as prepared as we should be and we lose a little steam [during the last round].” The Cyclones have a couple of motivational tactics to help them improve. First, they have the knowledge that the NCAA has expanded its number of regions to three this year, meaning more teams will qualify for post-season play. Secondly, they are excited about the chance to host the Big 12 Championship in late April. As far as the fall season goes, a lot of miles will accrue as the team will go to tournaments in Nebraska and Arizona during the first three stops of the year. These tournaments, along with one played at Northern Iowa, give the women a chance to fine tune their games before heading into the Big XII Preview at Baylor. The first half of the year ends with competitions at Colorado and Kansas State.