The women's golf teams at both Charleston Southern and the College of Charleston will both be gunning for a shot at a national championship when the NCAA Women's Golf East Regional tournament begins today at Ironwood Country Club in Greenville, N.C.
The top eight teams in the 54-hole tournament will advance to the NCAA National Championship on May 18-21 in Wilmington, N.C.
Charleston Southern qualified for the tournament by winning the Big South Conference title last month while the College of Charleston received an at-large bid.
"We might have possibly the youngest team that's ever been to the regionals," said College of Charleston coach Jamie Futrell, whose team consists of one sophomore, Leigh Whittaker of Germany, and four freshmen -- Katharina Boehm of Germany, Ainhoa Nogales of Spain, Vanessa Koechli of Greer and Anna Martin of Easley.
The Cougars, after finishing the fall season ranked No. 94 in the country, moved up to No. 65 by the end of the spring and led the Southern Conference Tournament before finishing second to Chattanooga.
This will be the fourth time in five seasons that Charleston has qualified for the regionals.
Under first-year coach Kory Thompson, Charleston Southern is making its second regional appearance in three seasons. The Buccaneers have three seniors and two freshmen in the lineup, the same team that won the Big South Tournament by a record 23 shots.
Senior Olivia Jordan-Higgins of the Channel Islands, U.K., won the Big South individual title after finishing second the two previous seasons.
Also in the Charleston Southern lineup are seniors Katrin Rumpf of Germany and Madison Jeter of Greenville and freshmen Katelyn Bensch of Greenville and Amanda D'Ostroph of Whispering Pines, N.C.
"I'm extremely proud of the team," Thompson said.
"We had a little bit of a rocky start, which could a combination of a new coach and new team.
"But overall, we had an excellent finish at the Big South Conference Tournament. We weren't expected to win, but for us to play as hard and as well as we did, that was a huge accomplishment. I'm hoping they can carry that momentum into this week and accomplish some great things."
Futrell said his young team has exceeded expectations. He said he knew he had good recruits but expected the team to be a year off.
"We don't have a super star, but we have five really good players," he said.
"(The regional) is a bonus. We expect to be good for the next few years and to get these players there their freshman year so they can see what it's all about is huge."