Sept. 16, 2012
DAVIS, Calif. - A veteran lineup, three straight Big West Conference championships and a rising profile in NCAA Division I women's golf has given new Aggie coach Anna Temple plenty of reasons to be optimistic with the 2012-13 season on the horizon.
Temple, a 2004 graduate of nearby Cal, was announced the Aggies' head coach three weeks ago after former coach Ann Walker was named the head coach at Stanford. Temple leads a UC Davis team that ended last season ranked 29th by Golfstat after its third straight NCAA Regional appearance. The Aggies return all five starters off that team.
That quintet welcomes three talented freshman as they look to solidify a national presence that has placed UC Davis as high as 13th in the national rankings while maintaining a consistent presence in the top 25 in recent years.
The Aggies will open the 2012-13 campaign on Monday at the University of New Mexico and the Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational. The 17-team tournament will feature 54 holes including 36 on Monday. UC Davis will play alongside Indiana and San Diego State and tee off at 7 a.m. (Pacific). A shotgun final round will start at the same time on Tuesday.
The Aggies will be represented by senior Demi Runas, the 2012 Big West Player of the Year, senior Amy Simanton, junior Beverly Vatananugulkit, sophomore Blair Lewis and freshman Andrea Wong. Runas and Simanton captured their third straight All-Big West first-team honors last season while Vatananugulkit was named to the first team while also capturing Big West Freshman of the Year honors. Lewis was an honorable mention selection.
All-Big West first-team honoree Jessica Chulya, and freshmen Raegan Bremer and Betty Chen round out a potent UC Davis team that will once again look to challenge for a berth to the NCAA Finals which this season are scheduled for late May in Athens, Ga.
UC Davis will play 11 tournaments this season including five in the fall portion of its schedule and six during the spring. Following New Mexico this week, the Aggies will return for the third straight year to the Golfweek Conference Challenge next week in Vail, Colo., and follow with events at Norhwestern (Oct. 1-2), Washington (Oct. 8-10) and Stanford (Oct. 19-21). Mostly regional events in the spring at Stanford, Cal, San Jose State, Hawaii and Arizona State precede the Big West Championships in San Luis Obispo in April.
Runas and Simanton form a dynamic senior duo for UC Davis and bring plenty of accolades to their final year. Runas earned her second straight Big West Player of the Year honor after averaging a team-best 73.8 strokes and either winning or tying for first at two tournaments. Simanton was the 2010 Big West Freshman of the Year and had four top-10 finishes.
"Their experience and expertise will really be helfpul going into New Mexico," Temple said.
Vatananugulkit won the conference's individual title in just her first season, highlighting a year that also included a fourth-place finish at the Las Vegas Collegiate Classic in the fall. Chulya was in the top five of two tournaments including the Las Vegas event where she was third. Lewis gave UC Davis great depth last year, stepping up and posting the team's best finish at the Stanford Intercollegiate.
The Aggies added a talented recruiting class with Wong, Bremer and Chen. Wong was a four-time All-WCAL first-team selection at St. Ignatius Prep in San Francisco, Bremer was an All-Century League four times at Canyon High School in Anaheim, and Chen captured four straight Hayward Area Athletic League championships.
"We have set a few goals," Temple said. "Contending in the Big West is definitely up there for our team. And obviously we really want to compete at nationals and not just go but show everybody what we're about. So as long as we work everyday on the things we're committed to, we'll be able to do those things at the end."
Temple takes over a program that has established a strong tradition of excellence in just five seasons at the Div. I level. The Aggies have won three league titles and have been represented at five NCAA Regionals and three NCAA Finals. The program has captured 13 tournament titles.
Temple came to UC Davis after serving four years as an assistant coach at Cal. She was an all-region player for the Bears and was a four-time qualifier for the U.S. Women's Amateur Championship.
This week's tournament will be played at the UNM Championship Course, site of the 2008 NCAA Finals. Also at the tournament will be Baylor, BYU, Colorado, Colorado State, Iowa, Iowa State, Northwestern, Ohio State, Pepperdine, TCU, UNLV, UTEP, Wyoming and the host Lobos.