One year after the best season in program history, the Colorado women's golf team finds itself in a much different position.

The Buffaloes go into the Pac-12 Championships with few expectations, but plenty of hope for the future.

"It has been a different year, but a good year in a lot of ways," said Buffs coach Anne Kelly, who is in her 16th season with the program.

The Pac-12 Championships will be held Monday-Wednesday at Valencia Country Club in Valencia, Calif.

A year ago, the Buffs reached the NCAA Championships for the first time and finished fourth in the regional tournament. The Buffs were sixth in the Pac-12 Championships, quite an accomplishment in what is perhaps the toughest conference in the country.

This year, the Buffs are seeded 11th in the 11-team conference and a trip to regionals is a long shot.

"Of course the results aren't where we want them, but teams do have ebbs and flows like that and we're just in a rebuilding year," Kelly said. "It's just more opportunity for the younger players to get great experience this year."

Three of CU's top players from last year are gone and the Buffs have replaced them with a crop of talented freshmen.

"We have four really terrific freshmen on our team and they've come so far since the fall," Kelly said. "They have been working their tail off and so has my assistant coach, Brent (Franklin), instructing them. It's been a year of hard work, but it's kind of nice to see the progress."


Six Pac-12 teams are ranked among the nation's top 15, including No. 1 Southern Cal. The Buffs aren't as concerned about the competition, however, as they are about putting together a good performance.

"I don't think we've even come close to hitting our potential yet in a tournament," Kelly said. "We haven't put one tournament together like we should and hopefully this is the week."

CU has been led this season by junior Jenny Coleman, who has posted a 74.46 scoring average. She and her twin sister, Kristin, are the only two Buffs back from last year's NCAA team.

"I've been playing pretty well," Jenny Coleman said. "It's probably my best season. I still have a lot of room for improvement, but it's getting better."

As much as the Buffs look to the Colemans and fellow junior Devin Dougherty for leadership, the core of the team is in the freshman class. All four are among CU's top five players this year. Alexis Keating has topped the group with a 76.5 average.

"We've made a lot of progress this year and I feel that in a couple of years we're going to be a great team," said freshman Jamie Oleksiew, whose 77.06 average is third on the team. "We haven't reached our potential and we soon hopefully will."

Allie Zech and Megan Haase have also played well this year at times. Kelly is still looking for consistency from her youngsters, though.

"It's gone well," Kelly said. "It's a slower process than I'd like to see, but when you think about it, golf is just a hard sport. It just takes time to improve."

Despite CU's low seeding, Oleksiew said she and her teammates are eager to test themselves this week.

"I'm hoping that we can play well in this tournament and see what happens," Oleksiew said. "I feel like it'll be a great experience, just to be able to play in a Pac-12 championship. Hopefully next year we'll able to make regionals and we'll know what to expect."


Jenny Coleman is hopeful of getting an individual invitation to regionals. ... Coleman has all four of CU's top-20 finishes this year.

Follow Brian on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.