No. 37: Indiana men, Northwestern women
College golf is just a few short weeks away. To get you ready, Asher Wildman is breaking down the top 60 men's and women's teams. Today, it's No. 37 on the board with the Indiana men and Northwestern women.
2010-11 final ranking: 37
Coach: Mike Mayer (13th year)
Top returnees: David Erdy, Chase Wright
Top newcomers: Freshman Nicholas Grubnich of Crown Pointe, Ind., freshman Andrew Fogg of Greenwood, Ind.
Projected starting 5: David Erdy (Sr.), Chase Wright (Sr.), David Mills (So.), Brant Peaper (Jr.), Corey Ziedonis (Jr.)
Key losses: None
Key fall tournament: Isleworth Collegiate Invitational
2010-11 recap: Indiana was one of the biggest surprises from a season ago. The Hoosiers won four tournaments in the spring, and at one point cracked the top 30 of the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings after finishing 63rd the year before. “I really thought we got better out of the gate and overachieved,” coach Mike Mayer said. “In the spring, we just seemed to lose the momentum and flattened out.”
With wins at the Firestone Invitational, Kiawah Island Intercollegiate, Wexford Plantation Intercollegiate and Adidas Hoosier Invitational, Mayer’s squad earned an invite to the NCAA regional in Notre Dame, Ind., where the Hoosiers finished eighth and failed to advance to the NCAA Championship.
Player to watch: Corey Ziedonis. Said Mayer: “He finished one shot out of making it to nationals last year. For a (No.5) 5 guy to be in that spot is pretty good. He’s playing really good golf this summer, and appears to have turned a corner to challenge for a top spot on the team.”
2011-2012 preview: For a program that wasn’t expected to do much last year, coach Mike Mayer has to be excited about what he has coming back. The Hoosiers return all five starters from last season’s squad that won four times and earned a postseason birth. “With everybody back, the depth will be better and should be better,” Mayer said.
Senior David Erdy, who finished last season at No. 151 in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings, is expected to lead the way. “Erdy really has the potential with all the tools he has to be extremely competitive,” Mayer said. “He has the ability to be the program’s next Jeff Overton or Jorge Campillo.” That’s hefty praise from a coach who has seen great talents in Bloomington.
For Indiana to return to the top 25, Erdy and fellow senior Chase Wright have to elevate their games and become top 100 players. The Big Ten, which is often overlooked, should be loaded with top-25 teams this year, and the Hoosiers may be one of them.
Two freshmen will compete for spots from Week 1. Mayor thinks that AJGA standouts Nicholas Grubnich and Andrew Fogg could contend for spots in the Hoosiers lineup. “Both have extensive resumes, and both will challenge for the top five,” Mayer said.
Bottom line: With all five starters returning, the Hoosiers should feel confident and comfortable to start the year. The depth is there and a regional bid is a sure thing, but the question will be if each returnee comes back with an improved individual game. If that happens and it all comes together in regionals, the Hoosiers could find themselves in Hollywood for the NCAA finals.
2010-11 final ranking: 37
Coach: Emily Fletcher (fourth year)
Top returnees: Lauren Weaver, Alex Lederhausen
Top newcomers: Freshman Hanna Lee of Hacienda Heights, Calif., freshman Brittany Mai of Poway, Calif., freshman Katie Wooliver of Cincinnati
Projected starting 5: Lauren Weaver (Jr.), Alex Lederhausen (Sr.), Devon Brown (So.), Kylie Fuller (Sr.), Hanna Lee (Fr.) or Brittany Mai (Fr.)
Key losses: Rebecca Lederhausen, Kelsey Lindenschmidt
Key fall tournament: The Landfall Tradition
2010-11 recap: Entering her fourth year, coach Emily Fletcher will try to continue the momentum she is building with the Northwestern program. The Wildcats have made it to regionals in back-to-back years, but haven’t yet made it to nationals under Fletcher. “We showed some progress last season for sure,” Fletcher said. “We were a bit weak at our 4 and 5 positions, and that hurt.”
Northwestern failed to win a team title last year, but did post five top 5s. The ’Cats earned a bid to the NCAA Central Regional, where their season ended after a 10th-place finish.
Player to watch: Devon Brown. Said Fletcher: “Devon had a good freshman year, and it may surprise some how much she will help our team. She hits it long, is a solid iron player and is starting to come around and see the dividends of working hard. She needs to continue to work on her wedge game from 100 yards and in.”
2011-2012 preview: Competing in the Big Ten with teams such as Purdue and Michigan State, it’s tough for Northwestern to gain recognition. This season, though, could be a turning point for the Wildcats if they can jump into the top 25 of the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. “I feel really good about our freshman class coming in,” Fletcher said. “We will be six to seven deep this year, and I believe we’ll be really strong at the 4 and 5 spots.”
The back end of the lineup was a weakness a year ago. This season, however, the team likely will rely on a pair of strong incoming freshman to fill those spots. “Brittany (Mai) and Hanna (Lee) are ready for college golf,” Fletcher said. “They played a ton of junior golf and won’t need much time to adjust.”
Fletcher has a true No. 1 player in junior Lauren Weaver, and an above-average No. 2 in senior Alex Lederhausen. If Devon Brown can take a big step forward from her impressive freshman year, then the Wildcats could field a deep starting five.
Bottom line: The Wildcats haven’t captured a team title under Fletcher, something that very well could change this year. Northwestern has been three deep for the last couple of years, but should have solid fourth and fifth contributors at each tournament, thanks to a strong freshman class. Northwestern is real close to taking a giant step forward. A top-25 ranking would not be a surprise.