No. 32 Frogs travel to Arizona for MWC Championships

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    The No. 32 TCU women’s golf team is on its way to the Mountain West Conference Championships in Arizona in hopes of winning the conference ring and a team title.

    Head women’s golf coach Angie Ravaioli-Larkin said even though the team has never played on the Heritage Course at the Wigwam Resort Red in Litchfield Park, it has the players to win.

    Seniors Melissa Loh and Prisela Campbell and juniors Brooke Beeler and Rachel Raastad will compete in their third Mountain West Conference Championship while freshman Sanna Nuutinen will play in her first.

    “We are a good enough team to where we can beat anyone at any given day and at any given time,” Raastad said.

    Raastad, the runner-up with a 5-over-par 221 in the 2010 MWC Championships, said the team was very excited for the tournament and that TCU was one of the favorites.

    Even though it will be Nuutinen’s first championship tournament, in three of the last four MWC Championships, the top finisher for TCU was a freshman, including current teammates Loh and Beeler in 2008 and 2009, respectively.

    Beeler is currently ranked No. 51 in the nation. She won the Alamo Invitational while finishing as the runner-up in the Windy City Collegiate Classic and also at the Central District Invitational.

    TCU last won a conference title in 2007 after recovering from a six-stroke deficit. The program has finished first or second in 11 of the last 13 conference tournaments.

    Loh was also named a National Strength and Conditioning Association All-American her senior year. She has dropped her stroke average from a 78.6 as a freshman to a 75.9 as a senior.

    Ravaioli-Larkin said the team has played fairly well this year and that it has had an up-and-down spring.

    “From our last tournament going into conference we have gained some momentum,” Ravaioli-Larkin said.

    In 17 years as TCU’s head coach, Ravaioli-Larkin has led the Frogs to three championships in three different conferences.

    Ravaioli-Larkin said the team wants to be doing better than it is because it has had some rocky tournaments. But the team is moving forward and looking toward postseason play.

    Raastad said, “What we do every day is going to determine what we are going to do in the tournament and if we are going to meet our goals.”

    Now that TCU will be in the Big East Conference starting in 2012, Raastad said the move would not have much effect on the women’s golf team.

    TCU has won a conference championship in the Western Athletic Conference (1998), Conference USA (2002) and the MWC (2007).

    “I think the team will be getting some amazing changes, and I think change is important,” Raastad said. “We need to change platforms to realize where we are going so we can increase the level of the program.”

    Ravaioli-Larkin said moving to the Big East will not have a direct impact on women’s golf, even though the locations of its conference tournament and the teams they will be playing will be different.

    “It is great for TCU and great for [TCU] Athletics, but it won’t have a direct impact on sports like golf,” Ravaioli-Larkin said.

    Course notes

    Heritage Course is a par 72, 6,408-yard course.

    Mountain West Conference Championships

    When: Thursday through Saturday

    Where: Heritage Course at the Wigwam Resort Red — Litchfield Park, Ariz.

    Follow live results at golfstat.com

    Sports editor Ryne Sulier contributed to this article.