First-year Virginia women’s golf coach Kim Lewellen did not know exactly what to expect last fall when the Cavaliers played the fall portion of their 2007-08 schedule. She had a roster that featured four newcomers and four returning veterans and the program was competing for the first time without three-time All-American Leah Wigger and several other seniors who had played key roles in quickly establishing UVa golf as a nationally prominent program.
After four fall tournaments, the Cavaliers found themselves ranked No. 23 by Golfweek and with a whole new look.
“There was a lot of adjustment in the fall,” Lewellen said. “We had new players, including three freshmen who had to experience the usual rigors of adapting to college in a very demanding academic setting. I had to get to know them and they had to adjust to my coaching style. One thing did not change, and that was the high standards that have been set for this program.
“I’m excited about how much we can improve this spring from where we finished the fall. They all want to play well. They all want to make it to the postseason. They all want to make their mark and they are working hard to do it.”
Junior Lene Krog, a transfer from East Carolina, established herself at Virginia’s top competitor in the fall. She played in all four tournaments and posted a stroke average of 72.92. She recorded three top-10 finishes including a fourth-place showing in the season opener at the Topy Cup in Japan. Krog enters the spring ranked No. 23 in Golfweek’s individual rankings.
Most importantly, like many of her teammates, Krog has improved her overall play, lowering her stroke average by nearly three shots a round from her final season as a Pirate.
An all-conference performer at East Carolina, Krog is the only Cavalier who has played at the NCAA Championships. After a ninth-place finish at last season’s East Regional, she qualified for the NCAAs as an individual competitor.
Krog was not the only newcomer who made an immediate impact on the Cavalier roster in the fall. Freshman Calle Nielson played in three tournaments and enters the spring boasting a 73.22 stroke average. She posted top-10 finishes including the Lady Tar Heel Invitational and The Landfall Tradition.
Nielson was ranked No. 25 by Golfweek after the fall and was rated the No. 6 freshman in the nation according to the Golfstat Cup rankings.
While Krog and Nielson led UVa in scoring in each of the fall events, the four returning veterans will factor heavily in the team’s success.
After being sidelined late last season due to a back injury, junior Jennie Arseneault should be back to top form this spring. Despite the setback last year, Arseneault was still honored as an All-ACC selection who led Virginia in scoring four times and was second twice in the six tournaments she completed last year.
Senior Kristen Simpson had a solid fall campaign, dropping her stroke average by two shots from the 2006-07 campaign. She played in al four tournaments and posted her best tournament score at North Carolina’s Lady Tar Heel Invitational. Simpson placed eighth at the Harder Hall Invitational in January.
Junior Carly Truitt was a scorer for UVa in the three tournaments she played in the fall. A qualifier for the U.S. Women’s Open last year, she was the Cavaliers’ No. 3 scorer at the NCAA East Regional in 2007.
Sophomore Whitney Neuhauser played in seven tournaments as UVa’s lone freshman last season. She was the Cavaliers’ No. 2 finisher at the Topy Cup in the fall, posting her best tournament and single-round scores.
Two other newcomers round out Virginia’s roster. Joy Kim made her collegiate debut at Tennessee’s Mercedes-Benz Championship in the fall while classmate Eleana Collins looks to crack the UVa lineup for the first time this spring.
“We have eight players who can all be in the lineup,” Lewellen said. “They are all phenomenal players who are low handicappers. They were very motivated and showed tremendous results and improvement during the fall. I think they can improve on that this spring and we will see where it takes us.”