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Mature sophomore steps up for Rebels

When Missy Ringler was building her UNLV women’s golf roster a couple of years ago, she knew she needed a solid No. 2 player behind Therese Koelbaek.

In Kristen Schelling, Ringler has that player. The sophomore from Mesa, Ariz., has combined her natural talent with hard work to back up Koelbaek, the program’s best player.

If Schelling can play well at this week’s 54-hole NCAA West Regional, which begins Thursday at Stanford (Calif.) Golf Course, the Rebels stand a good chance of advancing to the NCAA championships in two weeks at Wilmington, N.C.

“It’s coming together,” Schelling said of her game. “My putting has gotten a lot better, and I’m thinking better on the course. I treat each shot like it’s a new page in a book. If I hit a bad shot, just turn the page and move on.”

With age supposedly comes wisdom, and Schelling said her maturity, mentally and physically, has allowed her to improve.

“I think it has a lot to do with it,” Schelling said. “I also made a few swing changes last summer and over the (winter) break, which is giving me more distance.”

Ringler said she was glad to see Schelling get longer off the tee.

“She’s an excellent ball striker,” Ringler said. “But we talked about her need to be longer, and she’s done a great job in addressing that.

“She’s a very hard worker. She’ll take the time to work on her game, and that’s why she’s become a solid No. 2 for us.”

Schelling is averaging 76.46 strokes per round this year, an improvement over the 76.97 average she posted as a freshman. She’s had two top-10 finishes in her past three tournaments, an eighth-place finish at the UNLV Spring Invitational and a tie for fifth at the Mountainview Intercollegiate. She also has three rounds of par or better in her past three tournaments.

“I know I struggled at conference,” said Schelling, who tied for 19th at the recent Mountain West championships. “But I feel good about my game right now.”

Schelling, a communications major, said her ultimate goal is to play professionally. But right now, her focus is on helping her team to keep playing beyond this weekend. The top eight teams in the 24-team field advance to nationals.

“It’s a nice course. We’ve played there before, and we’re familiar with it,” she said. “If we play like we can, we can do it.”

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913.

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