The weekly countdown to the 2008-2009 Mizzou sports season continues, as we are just about three weeks out from the return of soccer and the scholastic season. This week, we will take on the links and hard courts as we look at Men's and Women's Golf as well as Women's Tennis. Just remember that the seasons of baseball and softball will be covered next week, followed by the wrestling recap that is now probably 5 months in the making. That should bring us right to the start of exhibition soccer season...and the end of the scholastic summer.
We will start with the women's golf team, who continues to make news all summer long with the great performance being carded by current team members. In fact, just this week, senior-to-be Chelsea Schreiwer added to her off-season resume by winning the St. Louis Amateur Championships. Future sophomore Lindsey Haupt came in third. Considering the success experienced in the off-season along with the success experienced during the year, the women's golf team is one of the up and comers in the Mizzou family.
MUTigers.com has already gone ahead and turned over their website from 07-08 to 08-09, so a look back at the Tigers' season is going to be a bit more difficult. The fall season was a great success, where Mizzou won the inaugural Johnie Imes Invitational at Old Hawthorne and Julia Potter won that tournament and another, earning her Golfweek's Player of the Week and Big XII Player of the Week. On to the winter season, the Tigers continued their steady play, and marched into the post-season where they would take 3rd at the Big XII Championships and advance to the NCAA Regional Tournament. There, the ladies' season would end with a 14th place finish, but Potter would shine for the Tigers, coming home in 10th overall.
The team will graduate just one senior in Maddie Augustsson, who was a big contributor in the past couple of seasons. That included five top-25 finishes in seven outings this past spring, and an 8th place finish at the Big XII Championships back in 2007. She leaves five very talented golfers behind for the typical six tournament spots (top five scores are counted of the top six). Leading the pack of returning talent is future-junior Julia Potter. Potter was the top Mizzou golfer this past season with three top-10 finishes, 6th at the Big XII and an All-Big XII selection. That was after an even better fall which saw her with three top-five finishes and two tournament titles. Potter is one of three US Women's Amateur Open qualifiers with Haupt and sophomore-to-be Madison Marcolla, and she also made it to the final stage of US Women's Open qualifying this past spring. Along with Schreiwer and junior-to-be Michelle Morgan, the Tigers will be returning a ton of talent to the links.
Who will be vying for that final position? Senior Ellen Hoeper is one name which comes to mind, as she will be returning from shoulder surgery which shelved her for the 2007-2008 season. Mizzou will also welcome three new freshman, including one from across the pond in Hannah Lovelock. She will be joined by Marissa Cook, who holds the highest finish in Illinois history by a freshman and Alex Bell from Indiana. All told, with the continued improvement of the talented pieces already in place, there is no reason to believe the ladies will not improve on their finishes (though Okie State is tough to unseat at the top of the Big XII). An NCAA berth may not be out of the question as they will need to finish eighth or better to get there.
For as solid of a season as the Women's Golf team had under coach Stephanie Prismeyer, the almost opposite could be said for the men's team and Coach Mark Leroux. The men's squad, though really pretty young, did not have the season I am sure they were looking to have. In the end, their 12th place finish at the Big XII Championships closed one of the more disappointing seasons of all the Mizzou athletic teams.
The same season-review issue exists for the men's golf team as it did for the women's golf team. Just know that in golf, they really get to play in some lovely locations. Las Vegas, California, Mexico, Florida are always among the destinations for the team. The men were able to add the UMB Mizzou Tiger Intercollegiate Classic, where they came in 10th this past season with Peter Malnati having the high individual finish. On the season, the best finish by the team was a tie for 2nd in the UK Bluegrass Invitational .
As mentioned earlier, this was a young squad, with only one senior on the team in Beau Crawford (who did not see much action on the season). The team next season will be very senior and sophomore heavy, as only one junior (Bud Reynolds) will be on the squad. The group of seniors will be highlighted by the duo from Tennessee in Peter Malnati and Ryne Fisher. These two were a big part of the first recruiting class put together by Coach Leroux and they need to step up their effort to start driving some team improvement. Local boy Kyle Marcolla will round out the trio. On the sophmore side, the Will's of William Harrold and Will Hogan both saw a lot of early action, along with Tyler Hillis.
The biggest news for Mizzou from this past season might be who they expect on the links next season in their lone signee of Jace Long (Dixon, MO) Long is an extremely decorated junior golfer who is expected (and needed quite frankly) to make an impact on the squad. And, considering the team finished 12th in the conference, improvement is expected. However, with a nice group of seniors and some talented youth, the time is now to get past this bump in the road and back on course.
Along with the men's golf squad, another very young Mizzou squad was the women's tennis team of Coach Blake Starkey. Featuring a trio of very solid freshman, the team got out with some good, early success before getting into the conference season. The highlight of the conference season was a win over kansas, one of their two conference wins. In the end, Mizzou lost a number of tough and close matches and will return all but one of their players from this past season, while adding a five-star recruit to the fold. What will that spell in 2008-2009? Let's take a look back before we look ahead.
First off, a quick piece of tennis education. Each competition is made up of nine total matches, six singles and three doubles. The doubles is competed first and a team must win two of three to earn the doubles point. The other six singles matches are competed for the remaining six points to give you the seven total points accumulated. Four team points are obviously needed to win the competition.
Often times, when a number of freshmen are big contributors to a team, there is usually an adjustment period to start things. For the most part, no so with this past tennis squad, as freshman Mallory Weber won more matches at the #1 position than any other Tiger member in some time, freshman or not. The Tigers would start the season nicely and rattle off a number of solid wins in the out of conference. Weber would be joined by fellow frosh Maureen Modesto and Kaitlyn Richie, with the former having the most wins (23) on the season and the latter having the 2nd most with 18.
Among the others returning to the squad will be one of two seniors next season in Sofia Ayala. She actually had the best record of any Tiger this past year at 16-6 and will be counted upon again for her ability to dominate at the later seeds. The other senior will be Jessica Giuggioli (it took me almost a minute to get that name spelled correctly) who was also over .500 on the season for Mizzou. Jessica also paired with Ritchie to make up the #3 doubles team while Ayala got with junior-to-be Kaitlin Dunham to be the #1 team for the Tigers, who won helped them in seven Big XII matches earn the doubles point. The #2 team will return Mallory Weber, but lose the only graduating senior in Chrissy Svetlic.
With one senior departing, one freshman will be arriving, this one from the Tampa area in Jamie Mera. Mera was listed as a top 50 national recruit, giving her 5 stars by whatever recruiting service is being used. Mera was on the Florida champion doubles team and was state runner-up in singles. Mizzou will also evidently add one more member, as Raquel Wagner is no longer with the squad. Between the depth of returning talent and addition of highly ranked member(s), the Tigers should improve upon their 10-13 overall record and hopefully start an ascension through the ranks in the Big XII.
- Good for Cardinal fans to see Albert finally get out of his HR slump. Bad to see them parlay their insane 10-8 in 14 inn. win with an awful an effort on Sunday. And really, Joel Piniero needed to pinch run for Albert in the 9th?
- Always enjoy the NASCAR race at Indy...that front stretch is just kind of fun in its setup with the fans on both sides and the fact you can hear the crowd over the race cars is pretty impressive.
- However, the competition yellows did drag the thing out just a wee bit and the tire issue bit a TON of people.
- However again, wow, what a finish that set up...boy I thought Carl was going to be able to take it after he got back to 2nd spot through the final pit.
- I did FINALLY find a copy of the Phil Steele magazine/book, a true marvel in space conservation.
- I am not the biggest fan of Mixed Martial Arts, but I will typically TiVO any free event and watch it in fast-forward later. Saturday night, CBS had their second Elite X-C (dont ask me what that stands for) event, and much to my pleasure, GUS JOHNSON!!! was the ring-side announcer. And yes, he was just as good as he is at basketball.
- Thankfully my worst month of the year (July) is getting ready to end. August is not great, though it certainly ends nicely with football season actually starting.