Seminole State College of Florida's Raider women's golfers have talent. Coming off a fourth-place national finish in 2011, the team boasts four returners and a promising group of freshmen.
One veteran, sophomore Elia Folch, is one of the top collegiate golfers in the country. The Barcelona, Spain, native earned Second Team All-American honors after finishing sixth individually at the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Women's Golf Championship in May.
"This is probably the best team we've ever had," says Raider Head Coach Christa Teno. "My freshmen are strong, and my returners have gotten even better in the off season. We should be very competitive."
Joining Folch on the roster are sophomores Caitlin Winters, Kiley Mettler and Lauren Shuford, who also put up solid performances at nationals. Shuford, of Brooksville, finished 18th individually and earned All-Tournament honors, while Winters, of Lake Mary, and Mettler, of Horseshoe Bend, Ark., finished tied for 28th.
"These players have worked hard to improve, and it shows in their play," says Teno, a former LPGA Tour player who is coaching her fifth season at Seminole State. "They're older, more mature and more prepared. I expect big things from them in the coming year."
Newcomers Jisu "Victoria" Choi, of Langley, British Columbia, Canada; Stormy Staton, of Crawfordsville, Ind.; Erika Wardzinski, of Valrico; and Joanna Yoo, of Orange Park, have also set the bar high, adjusting quickly to college-level golf.
"We're loaded with potential," Teno says. "The freshmen understand my expectations and know that I mean business. They're not fooling around."
So far, the hard work has paid off. The Raiders finished tied for third in their opening tournament — the Queens University of Charlotte Marjorie Whitney Invitational Sept. 25-27 — with a two-round score of 645 (328-317). Folch won the tournament with an individual score of 149 (74-75).
Choi, Shuford, Yoo, Mettler and Winters also competed for Seminole State. Choi finished 13th with a score of 162 (83-79); Shuford finished 15th with a score of 164 (82-82); Yoo finished tied for 16th with a score of 165 (84-81); Mettler finished tied for 24th with a score of 169 (87-82); and Winters finished tied for 27th with a score of 170 (88-82).
Tournament champion Barry University had a score of 630 (320-310).
The next test for the Raiders is the Nova Southeastern University Shark Invitational, Oct. 9-11 in Palm Beach Gardens.
"It should be a great tournament," Teno says. "Our players are committed to the game and committed to getting along and having fun. That will make the biggest difference in the outcome of our season."
For more information and a complete tournament schedule, please visit the Raider women's golf home page.