(ISN) – CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – The Fighting Illini women’s golf team will commence their spring season following a three-month winter hiatus. Illinois will open the spring in Venice, Florida, at the seventh annual Illinois Challenge against Illinois State University.
Head coach Renee Slone’s team is eager to return to action and will look to build off of a highly successful fall campaign. During the fall, Slone’s unit finished in the top-10 at each of the five competitions. The team brought home the Diane Thomason Invitational team title along with the match-play title at the Hoosier Fall Invite. Individually, freshman Dana Gattone topped the field at the Diane Thomason Invitational and shared the title honors.
The fall season served as a learning period that will benefit the team this spring. Coach Slone shared “The team learned how to win, including how to play with a lead and how to come from behind. Overall awareness also improved on and off the course, which includes emotion management and an improved golf IQ.”
After a fall season that saw a trio of individual rounds below par in addition to seven even-par rounds, the Illini know what it takes to be successful. Coach Slone believes that the key to carry that success to the spring season will be “Staying highly committed and motivated throughout the entire spring season. That includes paying attention to all of the little things, which when done on a continual basis, will lead to our success.”
Three weeks after the Orange and Blue take on Illinois State, the Illini will travel to Peoria, Arizona, for the Westbrook Spring Invitational hosted by the University of Wisconsin to open the tournament season.
Slone’s crew will return to Florida twice during March for the both the Hurricane Invitational and then the Web.com Intercollegiate at the end of the month. The Illini will also make trips to Johns Island, South Carolina and Columbus, Ohio, prior to competing at the Big Ten Championship April 24-26 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Redshirt-senior Samantha Postillion graduated after the fall semester, leaving Slone with a nine-member team this spring. Returning for their senior spring campaigns are Pimploy Thirati, Erin Ahern and Michelle Mayer. Ahren and Thirati made individual appearances for the Illini this past fall.
Sophomores Emiy Joers and Stephanie Miller return for the Orange and Blue. Joers competed in three fall tournaments and posted a low fall round of 73 at the Colonel Wollenberg Ram Classic. Miller saw action at all five fall tournaments and posted a low round of 69 at the Jim West Challenge. She also posted even par scores in a trio of rounds.
With the fall season under their belts, Grace Park, Chayanid Prapassarangkul, Pailin Ruttansupagid and Dana Gattone will look to make an even bigger impact this spring. Park, Prapassarangkul and Gattone each competed in all five fall tournaments. The freshman trio held the second, third and fourth best stroke averages on the team at the season’s midway point.
“The fall season provided a growth and development opportunity as the team members learned more about their individual games including how to play different shots, playing in different conditions and situations, their tendencies, as well as maintenance practice that needs to be done on a continual basis,” shared Slone.
Assistant coach Jenny Coluccio and her husband, Brett, welcomed their son, Braden to the family on January 9. While Coluccio is on maternity leave, Rick Slone will fill in for her.
“A big thank you to my husband, Rick, for filling in as interim assistant coach,” recognized coach Slone.