Off and Running


It seems like it was just yesterday that Southern California and Clemson were crowned the national champions for the 2002-03 season. But it was actually over three months ago, and a busy summer has come and gone.
Now its time for a new season and whole new crop of faces to keep an eye on.
The most talked about recruit on the womens side is no longer an amateur, as Aree Song has opted out of her commitment to the University of Florida and will give it a go on the LPGA Tour.
Florida will still be a squad to keep and eye on, as Aree's sister Naree makes her Gator debut this weekend at the Womens Fall Preview in Opelika, Ala. The Lady Gators, who start the year third in the country according to the Coches Poll, are led by first-team preseason All-America Aimee Cho.
Duke heads into the fall as one of the teams to beat as Dan Brooks team is once again loaded with talent.
The Blue Devils will once again start the season ranked No. 1 in the country. They have two preseason first-team All-America selections in senior Virada Nirapathpongporn, who won the U.S. Womens Amateur Championship, and sophomore Liz Janangelo. Senior Leigh Ann Hardin is a second-team selection.
Sixth-ranked UCLA might very well make some noise, not only out west, but nationally as well. The Bruins return every player who led the team to a fifth-place finish in last years NCAA Championship.
On the mens side, another incoming freshman had a summer to remember. Casey Wittenberg heads to Oklahoma State after finishing runner-up at the U.S. Amateur, and representing the United States at last weeks Walker Cup matches. Wittenberg and the rest of the Cowboys will be a team to reckon with this season.
The defending national champions are also one of the best in the land. Clemson returns three players from last years title winning team, and should once again contend for top honors. Florida and UCLA will also be in the mix from beginning to end.
Like their female counterparts, UCLAs mens team will return every player who led the Bruins to a third-place finish in last years NCAA Championship.
This is always an exciting time of year for me, because the college game can offer so many interesting possibilities. From teams we expect to contend every time they tee it up, to schools that catch everyone by surprise as they breakthrough with a remarkable run.
Whatever the case may be, it should prove once again to be a ride worth remembering.