After starting the Valparaiso University women’s golf program last season, head coach Mike Higdon begins year two at the helm of the Crusaders as the Brown and Gold are set for the fall season.
Higdon returns four sophomores from last year’s inaugural team, and has brought in five talented freshmen as the Crusaders look to take the next step with the program.
Annie Nolan and Jessica O’Brien led the way last year for Valpo, averaging 91.1 and 94.7 respectively. Nolan carded a season-low round of 87 and led the way for the Brown and Gold at the Horizon League Championships, finishing 29th. O’Brien carded a season-best score of 88 and was among Valpo’s top two finishers in all but two events last year.
Kathleen Cooper and Sarah Al-Momar also played every round last season for Valpo. Cooper averaged 95.8 on the year, and matched the team’s low round with an 87. Al-Momar steadily improved throughout the year, saving her best rounds for the end of the season.
Alyssa Cameron joins the program this season after qualifying for the Indiana High School Championships while playing at Warsaw High School. Another freshman, Brianna Davy, is a local product, having played at Lake Central High School in Northwest Indiana. She was a four-time All-Duneland Athletic Conference and All-Area selection during her prep career.
Three other freshmen will also look to an impact this season. Michelle Kleckner finished in the top-40 in the state of Minnesota as a sophomore at Irondale High School, and has won numerous junior tournaments throughout her career. Erika Pfaender helped lead Arrowhead High School to four state championship appearances in Wisconsin, and a three-time All-State selection. Kelly Voigt was the first female golfer in the history of Fremd High School to qualify for the Illinois State championships.
With all of the prep accolades the incoming freshmen have, the fall season should provide some excitement for the Crusaders. Valpo will compete in five events, beginning Sept. 13-14 in Green Bay, Wis. The Brown and Gold will then compete in Hammond, Ind. form back-to-back events, beginning with the Chicago State tournament followed by a triangular meet with Chicago State and Green Bay. The fall slate will wrap up in October with events at Butler and Dayton.