Youth, sister act drive Wildcats’ Big Ten championship hopes

Jinna Yun

The Northwestern women’s golf team has been good the past few seasons. This year, the Wildcats say they plan to be great.

NU has already played in four tournaments this season, finishing in the top 10 three out of four times.

The team entered the season ranked No. 16 after finishing second at the Big Ten championships last year, the best finish in the program’s history. This year, four of NU coach Chris Regenberg’s top five golfers return, including its only senior, Emily Gilley.

The Cats are looking to build on the foundation supplied by the veteran NU golfers with talented freshmen Ina Kim and Mary Ellen Grzebien, siblings of two returning upperclassmen.

“The new freshmen have added so much to the team,” junior Erin Breslin said. “They’re both amazing girls and are really dynamic.”

Ina Kim got off to a strong start, leading the team with a 75.4 stroke average after NU’s three fall tournaments. She has topped 80 only once so far.

Ina Kim won California’s 2001 state high school individual championship and competed in the 2001 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship, earning her a spot in Golf World magazine’s top 50 college players to watch.

“It’s fantastic having her on the team,” said Hana Kim, Ina’s older sister and a sophomore golfer for NU. “Personally, it really helps me a lot.”

Hana Kim, who finished third on the team in stroke average last year, shot an impressive round of 68 earlier this year, making NU golf history.

Lauren and Mary Ellen Grzebien are the other sister combination on the team this year. Lauren, a sophomore, finished second on the team in three different tournaments last year and continues to show progress. Her short game is expected to help out the Cats’ this season, while sister Mary Ellen Grzebien pulls from her high school playing experience.

Although younger players make up the majority of the team, Gilley is the team leader and hopes for a few personal victories. She is the most decorated player in the team’s history and is attempting to become only the sixth player in Big Ten history to be awarded four All-Big Ten honors.

Adding depth and talent to the team is junior Elizabeth Burden, who also was ranked in Golf World’s top 50. Sophomore Helen Killarney and freshman Camela Rao also should contribute to the young team’s roster.

“I think our goal is to win every tournament and of course win the Big Ten,” Breslin said. “This year, we’ll have the capability of doing it.”