Senior Rachel Newren will be a key contributor to this year's team. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
Coming off the most successful season in years, the Cougars return a wealth of talent for the 2006-2007 season and are poised for a record-breaking year. BYU finished the 2005-2006 season ranked 27th nationally and returns all five of its regular starters. The team also welcomes several blue chip freshman to compliment an ever-improving group of returning athletes. During fall competition BYU's improved depth carried the Cougars to one of its highest rankings in recent years, as it moved into No. 20 heading into the winter break.
With the talent, experience and depth on this year's team, Coach Sue Nyhus said she predicts her team will be one of the top three teams in BYU history.
"This group of athletes has outstanding potential," Nyhus said. "We look forward to the second half of our season to witness our goals and dreams come to fruition."
Leading the Cougars is two-time Honorable Mention All-American Rachel Newren. In 2006, Newren was an individual qualifier for the NCAA Championship where she finished 16th. This year she celebrated her third career victory and was named the Mountain West Conference October Player of the Month. Golfweek named Newren Player of the Week after her victory at the Ron Moore Intercollegiate. Newren continues to improve, and at the onset of the spring season she had a No. 14 individual ranking. Both Newren and sophomore Natalia Jimenez are on pace to break the all-time low scoring average on the team that has been broken by Newren each of the last two seasons.
Jimenez, a native of Colombia, and junior Juli Wightman Erekson both had strong performances for the Cougars during fall competition. Jimenez is having a breakout year and was ranked No. 86 nationally entering spring competition while Erekson has two top-20 appearances. Both were in contention for individual tournament titles during the fall.
Cougar returners senior Danielle von Arnim, senior Alexis Edwards and junior Ashley Childers also had individual successes during the fall. Von Arnim had personal-best rounds in Denver, Edwards finished well with a strong final round of the fall at UNLV and two top-20 finishes this fall, and Childers scored a low of 67 in September with two top-20 finishes. All three will have a significant impact on the BYU's success this spring.
Sophomore Alana Maiello completes the Cougar team. Maiello competed in three tournaments her freshman year and has already improved her scoring average during the 2006-07 season. Four freshmen have joined the Cougar team bringing extensive talent, tournament experience, motivation and a strong competitive drive.
Daphne Vines, from Austin, Texas, came to the Cougars with extensive national experience after competing for the American Junior Golf Association and winning numerous regional and Texas events. Vines competed in five events for the Cougars in her first semester at BYU. In the first tournament of her college career, Vines' finished in the top-20, scoring three straight rounds of 74.
Named Sacramento Player of the Year in 2006, Hannah Summerhays is also proving to be a key player for the team. Summerhays, like Vines, competed in five events during the fall. At the Bronco Fall Invitational, Summerhays led the Cougar team with her fourth-place finish.
Camille Gardner from Centerville, Utah, and Shayla Forsey from Morristown, Tenn., are both making an impact on the team and gaining valuable experience. Gardner and Forsey have each competed in three tournaments for BYU thus far. Gardner had a 17th-place finish at the Bronco Fall Invitational. Both show great promise and will be great contributors and leaders of the future.
"We really have a lot of good players," assistant Coach Dave DeSantis said. "A real strength of this year's team is its depth. I expect a lot of good things to happen."