Women's Golfers Receive WGCA Academic All-American Scholar Plaques

Dec. 11, 2013

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CHICAGO - Three UIC women's golfers, Caitlan Smollen, Ryann Gilley and Kayla Stueland, recently received their Women's Golf Coaches Association (WGCA) Academic All-American Scholar plaques. They earned the honor in July 2013 by totaling a cumulative GPA of 3.50 or higher, which serves as one of the most stringent criteria in all of college athletics.

UIC's three honorees front the Horizon League as Cleveland State, Detroit, Loyola and Valparaiso earned two apiece. Additionally, Stueland was recognized by the Horizon League with a spot on the 2012-13 Academic Honor Roll and Academic All-League Team, becoming the first-ever UIC women's golfer to earn either laurel. The junior carries a 4.0 cumulative GPA as a communications major.

The three Flames gathered earlier this week to claim the awards and pose for photos. Smollen, Gilley and Stueland were proud of the achievement and are eager to show their off-season improvements during the upcoming spring 2014 season.

"I am proud to have received this award because it means that I have embodied what it truly means to be a student-athlete," said Stueland. "It is nice to see that my hard work in the classroom and on the golf course has paid off."

"To me this award is a reiteration of my hard work throughout the semester and my ability to perform on the golf course and in the classroom," said Smollen. "It shows that you can be good at both even though everyone says it is hard to be a student-athlete."

"This award is a great honor because it shows that you can balance your time between golf and academics," said Gilley.

Stueland holds the program's lowest 36-hole round total with a 148 at the Detroit Titans Fall Classic (10/8-9/11). She sat out the fall season with an elbow injury but looks forward to a full recovery in the spring season.

"Coming off of elbow surgery will mean that I have to be patient with my off-season goals," said Stueland. "Getting back to my original strength level is a must before the spring season starts and hard work will be put in to make sure this becomes a reality."

Smollen recorded the strongest performances of her career recently, carding an impressive 76 at the Green Bay dual match (9/14/13). Not far behind, she posted a score of 79 at the Detroit Titans Invite (9/9/12) and the Cougar Classic (9/16/13). Smollen looks forward to preparing for the upcoming spring season.

"I need to improve over the winter on bad habits I developed to make sure that I can keep playing strong in the spring," said Smollen. "I am also going to improve upon my chipping so that I can put myself in a closer radius to make shorter putts, which will make pars easier for myself."

Gilley holds an individual low round of 77 at the Detroit Titans Invite (9/10/12). Her consistent play is shown with three scores of 79 within the last year, one at the Sunshine Spring Classic (3/11/13), the next at the Green Bay Invite (9/9/13) and finally at the Cougar Classic (9/17/13). Gilley is excited to improve her game over the off-season.  

"I was not very happy with my scoring average for the fall but it is something I can improve on for the spring," said Gilley. "I am going to continue practicing my putting, that is something that can always use improvement."

UIC opens the spring season at the Seminole State Spring Break Invitational on March 10-12, 2014. The event will be held at Timacuan Golf Club in Lake Mary, Fla. and it will be the first time the Flames compete on this course.