Freshmen vie for starting positions
By KATHLEEN O'BRIEN
Associate Sports Editor
The Fighting Irish women's golf team hopes its three freshmen will step up in a big way as the team looks to prove it is among the elite squads in the nation.
The Irish received an invitation to the NCAA Preview in Florida, a tournament reserved for the top 15 teams in the nation in addition to two at-large teams.
The top three freshmen this season will be Rebecca Rogers of Atlanta, Jeannie Murphy of Alexandria, Virg., and Shannon Byrne of Arlington Heights, Ill.
"I think all three of them have an opportunity to play right away," head coach Ross Smith said. "They'll be vying for starting spots. We'll be looking for big things from Rebecca Rogers."
While Notre Dame did lose several athletes to graduation, the impact will not be as deep as it could have been since several of last year's seniors did not compete last season. Captain Andrea Klee graduated, but did not play last year due to injury. Beth Cooper graduated in December, opening up her spot on the varsity squad to younger players. Senior Mary Klein also opted not to play this season, choosing instead to concentrate on her studies.
Those players' absences allowed this year's captains to gain experience leading the team. Senior Shane Smith and junior Lauren Fuchs took over at the top of the team.
"We never had the full benefit of our seniors last year," Smith said. "I think the team's going to be more competitive among itself this year. I feel like those freshmen are going to plug a couple holes for us. We're going to try to play well enough to get to the NCAAs."
The Notre Dame men's golf team swings into action with the tough task of replacing graduated seniors Jeff Connell, who holds the second-best stroke average in Notre Dame history, and Todd Vernon.
Three freshmen will compete to fill these spots. Gavin Ferlic, a South Bend native, Peter Revis of New Orleans and Chris Thompson of Memphis should contend for places on the varsity squad.
"We're hoping that out of this group we can find a couple players to fill the shoes of Todd Vernon and Jeff Connell," head coach George Thomas said. "Gavin Ferlic will be a force to reckon with for making the team, and Peter Revis is considered a very strong player."
Steve Ratay, a junior, leads the team this year as a captain.
"He's done some remarkable things for the University golf team the past two years," Thomas said.
Other returning golfers for the Irish are seniors Alex Kent and Adam Anderson, junior Chris Whitten and sophomore Brandon Lunke.
"We're hoping to finish highly in the Collegiate Tournament," Thomas said, "Earn a bid for the NCAAs and win the Big East Championships. There's no reason we can't compete in that range."
All Sports Stories for Saturday, August 19, 2000