Renee Slone prepares for fall season following Coach of the Year award

Sophomore+Kate+Hallinan+golfs+at+the+Big+Ten+Championships+at+TPC%E2%80%99s+River+Bend+in+April.+Head+coach+Renee+Slone+became+the+first+Illinois+coach+to+win+Big+Ten+Coach+of+the+Year.
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Renee Slone prepares for fall season following Coach of the Year award

Sophomore Kate Hallinan golfs at the Big Ten Championships at TPC’s River Bend in April. Head coach Renee Slone became the first Illinois coach to win Big Ten Coach of the Year.

Sophomore Kate Hallinan golfs at the Big Ten Championships at TPC’s River Bend in April. Head coach Renee Slone became the first Illinois coach to win Big Ten Coach of the Year.

Photo Courtesy of Illini Athletics

Sophomore Kate Hallinan golfs at the Big Ten Championships at TPC’s River Bend in April. Head coach Renee Slone became the first Illinois coach to win Big Ten Coach of the Year.

Photo Courtesy of Illini Athletics

Photo Courtesy of Illini Athletics

Sophomore Kate Hallinan golfs at the Big Ten Championships at TPC’s River Bend in April. Head coach Renee Slone became the first Illinois coach to win Big Ten Coach of the Year.

By Claire O'Brien, Staff Writer

Last year was a successful season for many Illini sports teams, including women’s golf, which went to the NCAA Championship for the first time in program history.

This season, the Illini have many returning players, only graduating senior Bing Singhsumalee. Those who returned include senior Tristyn Nowlin, junior Ali Morallos and sophomores Katie Hallinan, Sarah Hauenstein, Kornkamol Sukaree and Crystal Wang. Newcomers include sophomore Reena Sulkar and freshman Siyan Chen.

Though Nowlin and Morallos are the team’s only upperclassmen, the team looks to build off a strong season, which includes a second-place finish at the Big Ten tournament.

Nowlin competed at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur in April and was set to compete at the LPGA and Symetra Tour Qualifying Tournament. Nowlin’s name didn’t appear on the tournament’s leaderboard, and the senior has the lowest career stroke average of any player with three seasons or more experience per fightingillini.com.

The Illini’s successful season culminated in head coach Renee Slone becoming the first Illinois coach to win Big Ten Coach of the Year.

Illinois also boasts a new schedule this fall. Last season, the Illini finished tied-for-third at Tennessee, won at Coeur D’Alene Collegiate, finished in third at the team’s home tournament at Medinah Country Club, won Louisville’s Cardinal Cup, and finished the fall season winning at Southern Methodist.

This fall, the No. 16-ranked in the WGCA Preseason Coaches Poll begin their season Sept. 16 at the Glass City Invitational at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio.

Illinois will compete against Florida and Big Ten foe, No. 15-ranked Northwestern, as well as fellow Big Ten teams Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Illinois will travel to Oklahoma for the Schooner Fall Classic Sept. 27-29. This is a new tournament for the Illini, who last played in the state of Oklahoma in 2014 for the NCAA Regional Meet at Oklahoma State.

The Illini then return to Champaign for the Illini Women’s Invitational Oct. 7-8. Last season, the Illini finished third at their home tournament.

The team wraps up the fall season at Landfall Tradition in Wilmington, North Carolina. Illinois hasn’t played in North Carolina since 2016, when it finished sixth at the Greenville Regional Preview.

The Illini also received several individual accolades to begin the season. Wang, Sukaree and Nowlin were all named preseason Big Ten Golfers to Watch.

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