Both sides of CSU golf find their way with new faces

Mack Beaulieu

Women's golf team
Women’s golf team stands with trophies | CSU Athletics

On any given day in collegiate golf, your teammates are your competition as well. With a ton of new faces, the Colorado State men’s and women’s golf teams are navigating through that reality and the fact that they are among the most successful teams CSU has ever fielded.

Both teams were exceptional last year, relative to the program’s history and both lost personnel over the summer. In the midst of adding freshmen, and for the women’s team, a new coach, it looks like neither has missed a beat.

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Last year, the men’s squad made its first NCAA appearance since 2012 and put together their best regional score in the school’s history. After losing seniors Colton Yates and Max Oelfke, a step back was expected. But with two freshmen and a sophomore returning from injury, the Rams have more talent than they can bring to most tournaments.

“It’s really unlike any other sport,” Coach Christian Newton said. “You know five get to go, and we’ve thrown nine highly-competitive guys out there.”

One of those freshmen is Davis Bryant, who came to CSU as the top-ranked amateur golfer in the state. Bryant has shown that talent as he has finished in the teams’ top three in every event and has two top 10 finishes in his first four tournaments. Meanwhile, fellow freshman Oscar Teiffel has matched his two top tens with one of them being a win.

With so many good young players, including sophomores Parathakorn Suyasri and Jack Ainscough, the team has focused on building a team rather than a consistent group of five.

“I think we have a great relationship,” Bryant said. “We enjoy practicing together and helping each other out if we need to look at something or tweak something that can make us better. Everyone’s really fighting for the top five spots. Anyone of us can get hot for a couple of weeks and be really playing well. If someone is struggling a little bit, we can pop someone (else) into the lineup and you can believe they’ll play as well as you would be if your game was where it needed to be.”

At this point, the men only have upperclassman Jake Staiano and A.J. Ott that are relative locks for the top five every week. They can focus on leading while the younger guys deal with their inner-team competition.”

“It’s hard man. The biggest thing for me is I’m just going to the best things I can do as a senior leader. I want to focus on being a positive influence on all these younger guys.”senior Jake Staiano

So far, things have worked out very nicely for the men as they already have two first place team finishes this year and have received strong play across the board.

The women have had their share of positives so far as well, but really stepped it up when they took first place in the Ron Moore Intercollegiate. After winning in a strong field with multiple competitors from last year’s NCAA championships, the team is riding a bit of a high from its first, top-place finish in seven years.

“It gave us a great dose of reality about how good we really are,” junior Ellen Secor said. “We all had the thought in our head that we’re really good and that this could happen and now it did, so just to know that we can beat those type of teams that have been in the national championship last year, it really boosts our confidence and tells us we can get to the national championships.”

Last year was strong for the women NCAA entrants Secor and senior Katrina Prendergast. The team also had their highest Mountain West finish since 2010. The team avoided the pitfall of losing their head coach this offseason as well. 

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“With (Jessica Sloot) playing a lot better you can tell she has a lot more confidence, we’ve been rooting for her since day one,” Secor said. “Having (Sloot) play well, Haley play well, and then these freshmen coming in and kicking butt quickly, it definitely motivates me and KP to play even better and to lead this team.”

That improvement has been led by new Coach Laura Cilek. Cilek knew she was coming into a team on the upswing and took the time to get to know the players while focusing on the basics.

“I didn’t want to come in and overhaul everything,” Cilek said. “We really focused on course management, efficient practice and trusting yourself. You just kind of have to create buy-in and take the time to get to know them all.”

One of those people that the team is getting to know is freshman Saga Traustadottir, who come to CSU as one of Iceland’s best golfers. Traustadottir was held out of the teams’ first two tournaments as she adjusted to life at CSU and college golf. Like the rest of her CSU golf members, she is adjusting to the change.

“I have great coaches and teammates, so I think that’s the most important thing,” Traustadottir said. “They’re all super helpful, but it helps to win too.”

Mack Beaulieu can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @Mack_Covers.