UVU golf: coach Nyhus excited for her team's chances this season
OREM — Coming off back-to-back second-place finishes at the Great West Conference Championships, head Utah Valley University women's golf coach Sue Nyhus is excited about her team's chances in 2013-14 and what lies ahead for her Wolverines as they enter the Western Athletic Conference.
"It's fantastic to be a part of the WAC," Nyhus said. "It will offer us a second way into postseason play (with the other being team ranking). To have an NCAA berth on the line at the conference championships will be a great opportunity for us. Being in the WAC will also help us with scheduling, which should help us have a better team ranking at the end of the season."
Being in the WAC will not only give UVU the opportunity to earn an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament, but it will also bring name recognition and prestige to the program.
"The prominence and traditions of the WAC are definitely going to help us," Nyhus said. "We're looking forward to the competition in the WAC and are excited for the opportunities that it will give us."
Besides the consecutive second-place finishes at the GWC Championships in each of the past two seasons, Nyhus' Wolverines posted a trio of top-three finishes and five more in the top-10 in 2012-13. Since taking over the women's golf program at Utah Valley in 2010, Nyhus has helped her team to its inaugural tournament victory, its highest national finish (177 in 2012-13) and numerous schools records, including last year's team scoring average of 79.
"One constant improvement that we've had is that we continually break our own school records and we've done that steadily for the past couple of years," Nyhus said. "That is a great measuring stick for our program. As we continue to improve and break school records, we will put ourselves in a better position to make it into the NCAA Tournament."
UVU will welcome back the majority of its 2012-13 squad as it returns six letterwinners as well as one redshirt freshman. One incoming freshman will also join the Wolverines this season for a total of eight golfers on the 2013-14 roster.
"After just two days of practice it's already evident that the level of maturity is significantly higher this year," Nyhus said. "They know how to play and what it takes to be ready to play. They are also much more composed and confident and I think they are going to have a greater ability to manage themselves and their games on good days and bad days."
Four juniors — Hannah Herman (Draper, Utah), Heather Mathison (Sandy, Utah), Lynn-Marie Nagel (Polokwane, Limpopo, South Africa) and Brooke Bliss Whittaker (St. George, Utah) — will look to lead UVU after the foursome had solid sophomore campaigns a year ago. Nagel, who won the 2012 GWC Championships, is the top returner after averaging a 79.00 stroke average last season while Whittaker's scoring average of 81.00 ranks second among the returners. Herman held the fifth best scoring average on the team in 2012-13 (82.44) and Mathison was sixth (83.71).
With the 2013 GWC Golfer of the Year Jordyn Dougal now gone, Nyhus also expects big things from sophomores Cassandra Lesa (Kaneohe, Hawai'i) and Kalea Heu (Waiuku, Hawai'i). The Hawaiian duo finished fourth and seventh in scoring average, respectively, last season with averages of 82.21 and 84.21. Heu also took home GWC Freshman of the Year accolades in 2013 after she was the top freshman finisher at the conference championships, placing 19th.
The fourth-year head coach also has high expectations for her daughter Kimberly Nyhus (Orem, Utah), who redshirted her true freshman season last year, and lone newcomer Monica Yeates (Orem, Utah), who is a freshman out of Timpanogos High School.