Golfweek Conference Challenge: The teams

Hole No. 17 at Red Sky Golf Club in Vail, Colo.

Hole No. 17 at Red Sky Golf Club in Vail, Colo.

Women's Rankings »

RankNameSchoolRating
1Alison LeeUCLA  69.68 
2Annie ParkUSC  69.98 
3Gaby LopezArkansas  70.08 
4Yu LiuDuke  70.13 
5Stephanie MeadowAlabama  70.15 

Women's Team Rankings »

RankNameRatingEvents
1Southern California 70.56  10 
2UCLA 70.68 
3Duke 70.79 
4Stanford 71.56  10 
5Arkansas 71.66 

A look at the teams in the Golfweek Conference Challenge at Red Sky Golf Club in Vail, Colo.

• • •

Pepperdine

Conference: West Coast Conference

Coach: Laurie Gibbs

2010-11 final Golfweek rank: 20

The scoop: Grace Na is the go-to player on this squad as two-time U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Danielle Kang left the Wave to pursue a professional career. Na was a Golfweek All-America honorable mention last spring after graduating early to join the Pepperdine roster. As the only upperclassmen, senior Kaitlin Drolson will need to provide some leadership and experience for an otherwise young squad.

• • •

Notre Dame

Conference: Big East

Coach: Susan Holt

2010-11 final Golfweek rank: 25

The scoop: This Irish team looks a little different from the squad that won four times last season, including back-to-back victories to start the season. Freshman sensation Nicole Zhang is absent from the roster after deciding not to pursue golf at Notre Dame, and So-Hyun Park and Katie Conway have graduated. Senior Becca Huffer is a very capable front-woman for this team, and even though it’s a short roster in South Bend, freshmen Kelli Oride and Ashley Armstrong (Women’s Western Junior champion) are strong enough players to pitch in immediately.

• • •

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UC-Davis

UC Davis

Conference: Big West

Coach: Anne Walker

2010-11 final Golfweek rank: 26

The scoop: For the past two years, when head coach Anne Walker mentioned UC Davis, the names Alice Kim and Chelsea Stelzmiller usually came up. With that duo gone, junior Demi Runas – who advanced to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Women’s Amateur – has proven she has the game to fill some big shoes. The Aggies won their season-opener, the Ptarmigan Ram Classic, by two shots over Illinois and Colorado as Runas won the individual title and junior Amy Simanton finished T-9. Obviously these kids have been paying attention.

• • •

Oklahoma

Conference: Big 12

Coach: Veronique Drouin

2010-11 final Golfweek rank: 27

The scoop: Oklahoma returns one player from inside the top 100 in Golfweek’s rankings, sophomore Chirapat Jao-Javanil (No. 78). Jao-Javanil led the team in its debut at the “Mo”Morial. The Sooners suffered a big loss with the graduation of Ellen Mueller, who had 26 career top 20s, and will need senior Brooke Collins to step into the leadership role left vacant by Mueller.

• • •

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Chattanooga

Chattanooga

Conference: Southern Conference

Coach: Colette Murray

2010-11 final Golfweek rank: 31

The scoop: Chattanooga will have to adjust to life without Emma de Groot and Christine Wolf, players that led the Mocs to a four-win season during their senior campaign. Senior Maria Loza and sophomore Jordan Britt need to step up to lead in their absence.

• • •

TCU

Conference: Mountain West Conference

Coach: Angie Larkin

2010-11 final Golfweek rank: 33

The scoop: TCU broke a five-year streak of qualifying for the national championship last spring, falling just three shots short of the eighth position at the NCAA East Regional. The Horned Frogs return a stronger team this season that ranks No. 22 in Golfweek’s Preseason Rankings. Key players include senior Brooke Beeler, sophomore Sanna Nuutinen and freshman Alexandra Bonetti, the 2010 British Girls’ Amateur champion whose arrival on this roster has been much anticipated.

• • •

Oregon

Conference: Pac-10

Coach: Ria Scott

2010-11 final Golfweek rank: 34

The scoop: The Ducks are coming off a two-win season that ended with the team missing the NCAA Championship by a single shot. This should be a good year for redemption, though it might start slowly as freshmen Cali Hipp, Cassy Isagawa and Monica Petchakan slide into the holes left by Kendra Little and Erica Omlid.

• • •

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Minnesota

Minnesota

Conference: Big Ten

Coach: Michele Redman

2010-11 final Golfweek rank: 39

The scoop: Last season was an historic one for the Gophers, as they advanced to the NCAA Championship for the first time since 1989. Minnesota gained new coaches in LPGA veteran Michele Redman and former Texas Tech assistant John Cleary, but lost all but one member of last year’s all-star team.

• • •

Coastal Carolina

Conference: Big South

Coach: Katie Quinney

2010-11 final Golfweek rank: 41

The scoop: Coastal Carolina struggled last year at Red Sky, finishing 15th. By the time this reached the postseason, however, it was a different story as the Chanticleers burst into the lead in Round 1 of the NCAA East Regional and eventually finished fourth to advance to nationals for the first time in school history. Junior Jessica Alexander can go low to lead this team, and she has solid back-up behind her.

• • •

Mississippi

Conference: SEC

Coach: Michele Drinkard

2010-11 final Golfweek rank: 42

The scoop: The Rebels struggled at the Cougar Classic, finishing 11th of 22 teams. It was a much different story than last year’s season opener, when the team finished runner-up and Natalie Gleadall won the event. Senior Gleadall will be a big factor for the Rebels again this year – she finished last season No. 67 in Golfweek’s rankings – and can expect help from fellow senior Haley Millsap and junior transfer Ericka Schneider, who formerly played for Daytona State College.

• • •

Denver

Conference: Sun Belt

Coach: Sammie Chergo

2010-11 final Golfweek rank: 43

The scoop: Don’t underestimate the advantage of familiar surroundings. The Pioneers are only a couple hours from home at Red Sky, and as many other players are scrambling with yardage conversions due to altitude, this team already knows that game. Junior Kelly Drack finished fourth at the Conference Challenge last year. Also watch Tonje Daffinrud, who was third in scoring on the team as a freshman last season and picked up an individual win at the Challenge at Onion Creek.

• • •

Tulsa

Conference: Conference USA

Coach: Randy Keck

2010-11 final Golfweek rank: 46

The scoop: Tulsa opened its season at home last week with the Dale McNamara Invitational, where Hurricane golfers Kristina Merkle and Marita Engzelius finished in the top 10. Tulsa lost no seniors in the spring, and is coming off a one-win season where the team also finished runner-up at the Conference USA Championship.

• • •

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Texas San Antonio

Texas San Antonio

Conference: Southland

Coach: Carrie Parnaby

2010-11 final Golfweek rank: 55

The scoop: Coming off a one-win season – which came at the Southland Championship, earning Texas San Antonio an automatic qualifying spot in the regionals – the Roadrunners boast an experienced roster. The team opened play this season by finishing 11th at the “Mo”Morial on Sept. 13.

• • •

New Mexico State

Conference: Western Athletic

Coach: Paul Brilliant

2010-11 final Golfweek rank: 62

The scoop: New Mexico State concluded last season with its first trip to an NCAA Regional since 2006. The team also finished second at the WAC Championship in the spring, but opened this season with a 15th at the Ptarmigan Ram Classic. The Aggies have a young roster, but as co-head coach Jackie Booth said after the team’s first start: “It’s early in the season and we are learning some valuable lessons.”

• • •

Georgia State

Conference: Colonial

Coach: Cathy Mant

2010-11 final Golfweek rank: 75

The scoop: Senior Charlotte Lorentzen is the go-to player for this heavily international squad. She finished third at the European Ladies Amateur and winning the Danish Stroke Play Championship the following week, and has had six top-5 finishes in the past three seasons. Lorentzen should get help from Charlotte Guilleux and Laura Sanchez.

• • •

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Kennesaw State

Kennesaw State

Conference: Atlantic Sun

Coach: Rhyll Brinsmead

2010-11 final Golfweek rank: 76

The scoop: Look to Schbongkosch (Ket) Preamchuen to lead this squad after a successful amateur summer that saw the junior reach the second round of match play in both the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links and the U.S. Women’s Amateur, and the semifinals at the Western Amateur. Freshmen talent includes Lea Charpier, a member of the French National Team, and Minami Levonowich, who was the second alternate for the U.S. Women’s Open.

• • •

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Western Michigan

Western Michigan

Conference: Mid-American

Coach: Cindy Trout

2010-11 final Golfweek rank: 79

The scoop: Western Michigan has a lot of local talent, as three golfers advanced to match play at the Michigan Women’s Amateur this summer. The Broncos won three times last year, but didn’t advance to the NCAA Championship. The Conference Challenge will be its first start.

• • •

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Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania

Conference: Ivy League

Coach: Mark Anderson

2010-11 final Golfweek rank: 91

The scoop: The Quakers kick off their season at Vail after winning three times during their 2010-11 campaign and twice claiming the individual medalist. The entire squad returns this year, with junior Isabel Han and senior Tiffany Cheung in the lead.

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