UM Signs Glacier’s Avery, Other Golf Recruits

The addition of Avery will give the Grizzlies three Montanans on its 2016-17 roster

By UM Sports Information
Teigan Avery practices at Northern Pines Golf Club on Sept. 23, 2015. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Three months after he was hired as Montana’s women’s golf coach, Matt Higgins has signed his first recruiting class.

Teigan Avery, of Kalispell, and Caitlyn and Caylyn Villatora, of Lahaina, Hawaii, signed National Letters of Intent during this month’s early-signing period and will join the Grizzlies as freshmen in 2016-17.

“It’s been a whirlwind. Without a coach in place over the summer, there wasn’t really any recruiting done, so it was a faster process. To be able to get the girls we did, I’m really happy,” said Higgins.

Avery, the Class AA state champion as a sophomore and junior at Glacier High, and runner-up as a freshman and senior, is a three-time age-group winner at the Montana State Junior Championships and four times has represented her home state at the Girls’ Junior Americas Cup.

“Teigan was an important signing for us,” said Higgins. “She’s one of the best junior players in the state, if not the best, and one of the things I want to do is bring the best player from the state to the University of Montana. We did that.

“She has a tremendous record in junior competition and at state championships. She’s going to come in and help us right away.”

The addition of Avery will give the Grizzlies three Montanans on its 2016-17 roster. Hailey Hoagland, of Butte, is a sophomore and had the team’s best scoring average in the fall. Sadie Crippen, of Missoula, is a freshman.

“I chose Montana for many reasons,” said Avery. “My parents are alumni, and I’ve always loved the Grizzlies. I’m excited for the opportunity to stay in state and be part of Coach Higgins’ program.”

The Villatora twins, the daughters of Peter and Jennifer, are seniors at Lahainaluna High. The family resides on the northwest coast of the island of Maui.

Caitlyn Villatora finished second at the 2015 Maui Interscholastic League championship and third in 2014 at the Hawaii State Junior Golf Association’s Kiahuna Junior Classic. She also has won the Lahaina Junior Cup.

“My sister and I were very keen on going to college together, and it was a goal we achieved,” she said. “We had different opinions on schools, but we found a common interest in Montana. We both had a vivid image that UM is the college we want to graduate from.

“I like the size of campus and population, as well as the location. Coming from a tropical area, I think it will be a good experience to see all the seasons.”

Caylyn Villatora was shooting 73 by the time she was a freshman, and three times she has represented Lahainaluna High at the Hawaii state tournament.

“I chose Montana because it felt familiar,” she said. “Missoula is small, but not too small. It’s not too far from Maui, but just far enough where I can experience the seasons.”

Montana’s indoor practice facility had its grand opening just weeks ago, and it has already made a difference. It played a role in Higgins’ ability to sign the Villatoras.

“The climate change will be different for them, so our facility helped with their recruiting,” said Higgins. “To show them we can practice year-round helped, so the facility is already making a difference.

“Both Caitlyn and Caylyn are tournament-tested and have posted really good scores in pressure situations, and that’s something I look for.”

Montana will lose seniors Hayley Bingham and Phoebe Tan next spring. The addition of Avery and the Villatoras will give Higgins a nine-player roster for 2016-17.

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