FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas women’s golf team will start the season ranked No. 23 in the GolfWorld/National Golf Coaches Association Coaches’ Preseason Poll, the organization announced today.
The Razorbacks, who return all five players who traveled in the postseason, open the year Sept. 10-12, at the Old Waverly Invitational in West Point, Miss.
“Starting the season ranked in the polls is a nice show of respect from the voters,” said Arkansas head coach Shauna Estes-Taylor. “It is a good pat on the back for the players who are returning from last season. That being said, it is all about what we do next. This is a good starting point but we want to move up steadily all season and put ourselves in the position to challenge for championships.”
Arkansas wrapped up the 2011-12 season with a runner-up finish at last year’s Southeastern Conference Championship at Blessings Golf Course. The Razorbacks finished eighth at the NCAA Central Regional and advanced to the program’s second consecutive NCAA Championship where they finished 23rd overall.
Lone senior Victoria Vela has made the cut in every event as a sophomore and junior and she returns alongside two-time All-American and first-team All-SEC selection Emily Tubert.
Tubert is coming off a busy summer in which she represented Team USA at the Curtis Cup and played in several amateur events.
Junior Emma Lavy also returns after making the cut in all of Arkansas’ events last year. The Fayetteville, Ark., product is a steady competitor who could challenge from some top finishes this year. Junior Emily Podzielinski played in all 11 tournaments after transferring to Arkansas the previous season.
Sophomore Hally Leadbetter took part in seven events last year including all three postseason tournaments for the Razorbacks. The experience gained as a true freshman in 2011-12 will put her in contention for a traveling spot again this year.
Arkansas also returns sophomore Audrey Monssoh and senior Meagan Roberts, both of whom competed for the Razorbacks last season.
Estes-Taylors adds a strong freshman class into the mix this season. Newcomers Olivia Lavy, Gabriela Lopez, Regina Plasencia and Kayli Quinton will compete for traveling spots this year.
"Our plan is to work really hard on all of the little things that make us better throughout the year," Estes-Taylor said. "We want to be playing our best golf in the postseason and reach the goals we have set for ourselves."
Arkansas faces many of the teams ranked in the preseason poll including SEC members No. 1 Alabama, No. 7 Auburn, No. 8 Vanderbilt, No. 9 Florida, No. 10 LSU, NO. 11 Georgia, No. 13 Tennessee, No. 15 Texas A&M and No. 17 South Carolina.