Experience and young talent collide for Illini women's golf

By Lauren Mroz

The Illini women’s golf team was dependent on young blood last season.

They welcomed three freshmen to Renee Sloan’s team: Dana Gattone, Grace Park and Jan Prapassarangkul. Though it fielded a team with such little collegiate experience, Illinois still managed to make several revisions in the school record book.

The team is coming off of one of the program’s best seasons yet, which included two first place tournament finishes.

Gattone, Park, Prapassarangkul and sophomore Stephanie Miller broke into the program’s top-10 list of single-season stroke average leaders. Miller added her name to the list for the second time.

The team collected a conference-best six “Golfer of the Week” honors over the course of the season. Gattone earned the first, followed by two for Miller, then sophomore Emily Joers, while Prapassarangkul earned the final two.

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    Off the course, Gattone and Prapassarangkul achieved the necessary 3.5 GPA in order to represent the Illini on the Women’s Golf Coaches Association’s All-Scholar team, continuing the team’s three-year streak. Meeting the criterion as second-year students, Miller and Joers were named Academic All-Big Ten.

    Over the summer, the team has been spread out, playing in various tournaments throughout the Midwest, with the exception of Prapassarangkul who went home to play in a few tournaments in Thailand.

    The Illini are adding one freshman to the team. Bing Singhsumalee is a two-time state runner-up in Illinois. Singhsumalee joined Gattone and Miller this summer, participating in various tournaments around the state.

    The Illini will travel far and wide this season, heading to Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Hawaii and South Carolina to play various tournaments.

    “We’ll be playing in some new tournaments, all with very strong fields and a chance to compete against some very talented teams,” Gattone said, “So we are excited to be changing up the schedule and we are doing all that we can to be best prepared for those new courses and conditions.”

    Because most of the tournaments are new for the Illini, Gattone said it is tough to decide which will provide the biggest test this season.

    “We really treat them all as the toughest tournament and prepare as such,” she said, “But I would say most likely our tournament in Georgia because we will be traveling from Hawaii straight to Georgia. It will be important to get enough rest and remain prepared to compete as best we can, despite the time zone change and drastic change in conditions from the Hawaii course to Georgia.”

    With three of its leading golfers entering their second years with the team, the Illini can use the extra experience as an advantage in order to build on last season’s success.

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