College Women

Women's spring preview: Mountain West

New Mexico's Manon De Roey
New Mexico's Manon De Roey ( Courtesy New Mexico Athletics )

Sunday, January 27, 2013

New Mexico’s women’s golf history books are peppered with players who helped the Lobos to greatness before finding success after college. LPGA player Jodi Ewart is the most recent, leading New Mexico to its last team appearance at the NCAA Championship in 2010.

This season, New Mexico claims the Mountain West’s leading scorer in Manon De Roey (pronounced man-OH). The junior from Schilde, Belgium, won the season-opening Ptarmigan Ram Fall Classic, setting a new 54-hole school record in the process (9-under 207). She finished the season with another top 10 at the Branch Law Firm Dick McGuire Invitational, and a 73.25 scoring average. She could be the next great Lobo.

“It’s so refreshing to have such good players com into their own,” Trujillo said of watching De Roey blossom this season. She can remember when a freshman De Roey allowed her emotions to get the best of her. Now, she recovers quickly from mistakes.

As a team, Trujillo said her team had “moments of brilliance” this season. Part of her coaching strategy is to compare her current squad to some of the most successful Lobo teams of the past, such as the one Ewart was part of. The key to this group’s success will be scoring well on the same day. Trujillo spent the fall and the offseason getting her players to believe in themselves.

“I constantly remind them how good they really are,” she said.

In the past, New Mexico has been the dominant team in the Mountain West, winning three consecutive conference titles from 2008-10. TCU took the past two championships, but left the conference this year for the Big 12.

In a deep conference that often goes overlooked amid the larger conferences, Trujillo says the Lobos never have been able to run away with a conference title, and shouldn’t expect any different even with TCU gone. The Lobos won their last two titles at Bayonet and Black Horse in Seaside, Calif., a former PGA Tour Q-School site. This year, the Mountain West Championship will be contested at an LPGA major venue, the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

“We don’t make it easy,” Trujillo said.

Mountain West’s representative in the postseason certainly will be a worthy one.

• • •

Where it stands now

Top of the class: UNLV

Best player in the fall: Manon De Roey, New Mexico

• • •

Past champions

2008: New Mexico

2009: New Mexico

2010: New Mexico

2011: TCU

2012: TCU

• • •

Conference capsules

UNLV (No. 46)

UNLV upped its game in the fall, finishing among the top 3 teams in four tournaments. Also finished sixth at the Edean Ihlanfeldt Invitational, played at Sahalee Country Club. The Rebels haven’t been to the NCAA Championship as a team since 2008, but perhaps this is the year.

New Mexico (No. 76)

With TCU out of the Mountain West, New Mexico should look to reclaim its spot as conference champs. If that’s going to be the case, however, New Mexico must become more competitive. The Lobos were T-5 at the season-opening Ptarmigan Ram Classic, and never again finished higher than 10th. Junior Manon De Roey is the top-ranked golfer in the conference.

San Diego State (No. 81)

Team leader Christine Wong, a senior, wasn’t quite as explosive this season as she has been in past seasons, but the team needs more than Wong’s “A” game to be successful. Give the Aztecs credit for playing a difficult schedule.

Fresno State (No. 82)

Won the Cowgirl Desert Intercollegiate. New to the conference after leaving Western Athletic Conference last spring. Ranked just one spot lower than at this time last season.

Nevada (No. 97)

Respectable, middle-of-the-pack finishes all fall. A conference title would break the mold for the Wolfpack. Sophomore Nikki Prichard is the No. 2-ranked golfer in the conference.

Boise State (No. 105)

Best fall finish was fourth at the Rose City Collegiate. A lot of seniors on this squad (five), but a good base of freshmen, too.

Colorado State (No. 122)

Lots of good competition in the fall thanks to five full-field events. This team will be staying west in the spring, but highlight of the coming season will be the Juli Inkster Spartan Invitational. Junior Emily Roering is the go-to player for this team.

Wyoming (No. 148)

Finished the season on a high note with a sixth-place finish at the 19-team Wyoming Cowgirl Desert Intercollegiate. Has fallen 46 spots in the rankings since this time last year.

Conference championship

April 25-27, Mission Hills CC (Dinah Shore Tournament Course), Rancho Mirage, Calif.

Lance Ringler's prediction

UNLV. The MWC is as weak as we have seen it – maybe ever. With only one team – UNLV – a lock for the postseason after the fall break, the Rebels appear to be the clear favorite to win the title. Perhaps New Mexico and San Diego State may make a push this spring, but not sure they have enough firepower to stay up with the Rebels. readers: We value your input and welcome your comments, but please be respectful in this forum.