March 27, 2006

When they are off the course, they are not only friends but also roommates. When they are on the course, they are two of the leaders on the Iowa women’s golf team.

While they are only juniors, Amy Riepma and Karla Murra have helped to lead a young team to its best stroke average, as a team, in Iowa history.

“They are, I think, really strong leaders on the team. They’re the two most experienced members of the team in terms of the amount of time they’ve been here and amount of time played,” said Head Coach Bobbe Carney.

“I think they’re key. They are the senior members of the team. So in that respect, they are seniors.”

Riepma, who hails from Clear Lake, Iowa, won the state championship as a junior in high school. Last year, Riepma also learned to play through injury. Back pains troubled her throughout the season; however, she would not let it stop her.

“One of the most amazing things about Amy is how she is willing to fight through adversity. She’s not able to carry her golf bag and yet she goes out and performs and works her way through it every day,” said Carney.

While still dealing with the pain, Riepma has been going through rehab and is learning how to cope with the pain.

“A lot of it is just mental. It is tough going into a tournament. But I know when I step up to the tee, I’ve got to put it in the back of my mind. It’s only five or six hours,” said Riepma.

Riepma continues to grow this season. She has already carded three top 10 finishes, including a 10th place finish at the Pinehurst Challenge in mid-March. Despite the success, Riepma wants to keep focused and continue to improve.

“I can’t really put numbers out there,” she said. “It’s knowing that I’m the best golfer I can be. There’s always something I can work on. It’s having 110% confidence in myself and the team. It’s knowing that I’ve done everything I can to get ready for a tournament.”

Murra, the 2003 South Dakota State AA Champion was named the Most Improved Player last season. She’s continues to work on her game this season, trying to find her best swing.

“For Karla, it’s just finding a level of consistency in her play. In her time here, she’s made some swing changes. She knows where she’s trying to get to with her swing and her game,” said Carney.

Always the team player, Murra enjoys playing on a team without seniors because of the camaraderie they have been able to develop.

“We don’t really feel that young because we’ve been together so long we’re really close. We all kind of step up to the plate together,” said Murra.

While some coaches might find it challenging to have a team without seniors, Carney’s team has developed its own chemistry around the philosophies of Riepma and Murra.

“I would say all my players are dedicated, but I think Amy and Karla have a special level of dedication and understanding. I think they show the maturity of what we hope everyone will grow into,” said Carney.

“Karla and I were lucky in that we’ve played a lot and under some really good leaders. It’s really exciting that we’ve got a year and a half left and we won’t lose anybody,” said Riepma.

Under the leadership of Riepma and Murra, the team has been able to focus on more than just the basics of golf.

“The biggest things we’ve been focusing on is trying to enjoy the opportunity to compete. I really think we have made some progress in that regard. The more the entire team works in that direction, the better off we are,” said Carney.

The Hawkeyes next compete in the BYU Dixie Classic in St. George, Utah, April 3-5.

written by Jennifer Bissell, Iowa Sports Information