In the 2003-04 season, the University of Pennsylvania men's and women's golf teams watched their spring season bloom into an impressive showing.
The men's team, facing the loss of two All-Ivy League golfers from the previous season, leaned heavily on its underclassmen. With only a few veterans on the team, the women's program leaned on the strong scores of the younger players as well. By the end of the spring season, what had once been less experienced youths had blossomed into team leaders.
Despite the loss of three-time letterwinner Adam Squires, the Quaker men's golf team is looking to improve on its second-place finish a year ago. With three underclassmen leading the team in per round averages, the Red and Blue will look to their younger players to take the lead this year.
The veterans, seniors Jeff Riley and Larry Nickell, are coming off of solid performances last season. Riley led the Quakers at the John MacDonald Classic with a 10th-place finish and a score of 156. Nickell led the Red and Blue with a score of 146 and an 18th-place finish at the Navy Fall Invitational. Tying for seventh at the Ivy League championships, Nickell earned the nod for an All-Ivy selection.
Also earning All-Ivy status and tying Nickell for the seventh-place position was junior Derek Rogers. Rogers had a very strong sophomore campaign and has proven himself as one of the leaders on the team.
The sophomore class of Sean Barrett and Patrick Cooper hope to continue the success of their freshman season. Both finished in the top-20 at the Ivy League Championships and finished their season with a 76.5 and 77.1 per round average, respectively. Coach Rob Powelson has a very positive outlook to the season, keeping the youth of the team in mind.
"As I look at our roster, I'm very confident that we have the right chemistry in place to compete with some of the top ranked teams in our district. This year, we have a very strong freshman class with Dean Merrill and Garrett Wentzell. Both bring us some needed bench strength to compete and win an Ivy League Championship."
Incoming freshmen Merrill, Wentzel and Michael Kornheiser, along with Duke transfer Robert Jakobi, look to improve and contribute in their rookie seasons with the Quakers.
The Red and Blue women's team ended its season on a very high note, finishing sixth or better in five of their seven competitions. Heading into the Ivy Championships in Trenton, N.J., the Quakers were relying on a number of younger players. Those players stepped up, with two sophomores and a junior leading Penn's low scorers to an overall fifth-place finish for the second-straight year.
The veterans this year are sure to make an impact for the Quakers. Senior Lauren Eveland is coming off a junior season where she averaged. Leading the team last year with an 80.3 per round average, Melissa Aylor is shooting to make the All-Ivy team this year. With an impressive eighth-place finish at the Ivy League Championships, and three top-three finishes on the season, Aylor is looking to put the Red and Blue on the top of the leader board this year.
Already, Aylor has led the Quakers to one team victory in 2004, the first in Penn women’s golf history. She shot a 72 at the Lehigh Fall Invitational to pace the Red and Blue to a total team score of 326 and the victory. It was her second individual collegiate victory.
The women's youth movement continues behind sophomore Stephanie Stamas, who had a very strong showing in her freshman campaign. Juniors Lexie Wukich, Kim Thompson, and Jenna Skorupa look to continue on their successes from the 2003-2004 season. All three juniors placed in the top-30 at the Ivy League Championship last spring and are sure to improve. Newcomers Meg Bender and Shara Venezia-Walerstein look to make an impact in their rookie season.
~Written by Matt Valenti, C’06