Entering the season with four freshmen and only one senior on the roster, third-year head coach Krystal Kelly expected a few bumps in the road along the way. She also expected to see her young players show improvement during the course of the season and her upperclassman to take a leadership role.
She got it all.
"Overall I was happy with the season," Kelly said. "We have a young squad, so I knew there was going to be some challenges. However, the culture and the team chemistry dramatically improved."
The Broncos placed in the top 10 in seven of their 10 team events with their best finish being third at their own Colby Classic in October, 2012. The spring season opened in February with a seventh place showing at the Long Beach Gold Rush and a sixth place finish two weeks later at the UCI Anteater Invitational.
The first round of the San Jose State Juli Inkster Invitational in March provided one of the many highlights during the season when the team had its best score of the year with a first round 298. It was the first time in three years the team cracked the 300 mark. "What stands out most to me is the first round at the SJSU Julie Inkster Invitational," Kelly noted. "We broke 300 for the first time in years. It was really fun to watch them play and see their reaction when they found out what we had shot."
Seven of the Broncos' 10 team events consisted of three rounds and the team was able to post its best tournament score in the final round four times, something Coach Kelly credits to an improved training program. "In the gym, every single player improved on every test that we do quarterly," she said. "I was really impressed by this. I think it's been a huge factor for the 36-hole days and the three day events. They aren't getting as fatigued as they used to."
The team's third round stroke average (77.18) was nearly a shot-and-a-half better than the second round average (78.5) and almost two shots better than the first round average (78.83). "Our round 3 scoring average is something that I've been really impressed by," Kelly said. "Overall our round 3 average has dropped by eight shots from last year. We had several rounds in the low 300s. If we can get our first and second rounds this low as well, we will make a huge jump in the rankings."
And the Broncos saw an impressive leap in the Golfstat.com rankings this season, ending the year at No. 133, a jump of over 40 spots from the beginning of the season, according to Kelly.
In back-to-back tournaments, Guajardo finished fourth at the Santa Clara Colby and a week later tied for second at the Cal Poly Lamkin Grip Invitational. She also had five other top 20 finishes on the season. "Balbina had a really good fall and was consistent tournament to tournament," said Kelly.
Freshmen Ashley Noda, Monique Riley, Meghan Shain and Sadie Strain all contributed in their first season with the program with Noda and Riley earning honorable mention All-WCC accolades. Noda played in eight events over the season and ended the year with her best finish, tying for 10th at the WCC Championship. "Ashley really stood out to me this season," Kelly said. "Her game is starting to go to the next level. She played great at Conference and I think her game is only going to get better and better."
Shain and Riley both ended the season with top 20 finishes at the WCC Championship, the second top 20 finish of the year for each, and showed improvement over the season that makes them key players for years to come. "Monique and Meghan both made huge strides in their games. In my opinion they are both the most improved," Kelly stated.
"I'm really happy with my freshman class," Kelly said of her four first-year players. "We had a minimum of three freshmen in almost every event this year. I think they adjusted really well to SCU and our program."
Junior Taylor Camany had a stellar third season in the program and earned honorable mention All-WCC honors. She didn't crumble under the pressure of being a leader on a young squad and is in line to assume a larger leadership role next season. Her two top 20 finishes came in the last four events she competed in with a 10th place at the UCI Anteater Invitational and 14th at the WCC Championship. "Taylor had some really clutch rounds for us," Kelly said. "Under pressure she definitely shines."
Casey Briggs, Kaci McCartan, Morgan McClure and Brooke Stephens all stood out to Coach Kelly, but more for what they did off the links as opposed to on it. For various reasons these players didn't get the time at the tee box the others mentioned above did. But their contributions can't be overlooked.
"They did a really good job of supporting the other players on the road and pushing them at practice," Kelly said. "My team has done a great job and it really takes all of them to be successful."
First Team All-WCC: Balbina Guajardo
Honorable Mention All-WCC: Taylor Camany, Ashley Noda, Monique Riley
WCC All-Academic: Kaci McCartan, Taylor Camany