Western Illinois head coach Lia Biehl Lukkarinen is entering her ninth year at the helm of the women's golf team, and has built a very impressive program for the Leathernecks.
The 2012-13 season saw Western finish in the top five of five invites throught the year. First, both Western's Purple team and Gold team finished in the top five of the Leathernecks' home meet in the fall, with the Purple squad finishing in first-place (632) and the Gold team finishing fourth (684). Individually, Kristi Tschudin won the event with a score of 155. Ashley Jeffers and Emily Brink tied for second. After posting a 997 and finishing ninth in the Jackrabbit Invitational, and then carding a 659 and finishing 11th in the Bison Invitational, the Leathernecks concluded their spring with four straight top five finishes. Western finished second in the Monterey Bay Invitational (968), where Tschudin finished second (237), Brink third (241) and Jeffers tied for fourth (242). The Leathernecks then took second again at the Hotels at Grand Prairie. Tschudin finished third (231), while Jeffers finished sixth (236). The Leathernecks, led by Brink in both invites, carded a 649 in the Creighton Classic for third-place, and a 997 in The Summit League Championships finishing in fifth. Brink tied for third at Creighton and earned all-tournament team honors at the conference championships with a fifth-place finish.
Last season, the 2011-12 Leatherneck women's golf program finished sixth in The Summit League Championships after shooting a three-round score of 932 (200-324-308). Their opening round of 300 was a season-low for the Leathernecks. Kristi Tschudin was named to the all-tournament team after finishing in the top-five individually (T3rd), while Ashley Jeffers just missed the cut, finishing sixth overall. The team finished in the top-five of two of their tournaments in 2011-12, third in their annual home invite (323-324--647), the WIU Autumn Invitational, and fifth in the Butler Fall Invitational (308-310--618). Tschudin also led the team with a stroke average-low of 79.1. Jeffers and Tschudin each finished rounds under par, Jeffers a 70 , and Tschudin a 71, each of which that came in the first-round of The Summit League Championships.
In 2010-11, Lukkarinen led the Purple & Gold to the best finish in program history at The Summit League Championships in Primm, Nev. The Leathernecks finished in second place to close out the 2011 season. Western Illinois won three tournaments during the season including the Western Illinois Invitational, SIUE DoubleTree Invitational and the Loyola Invitational. The Leathernecks collected three runner-up finishes including the Summit League Championship. The other two coming at the NewWave Communications MSU Spring Invite and the IPFW Spring Invite. Tara Peterman earned All-League Second Team honors and was named to the All-Tournament team with her fourth place finish at the Championships. In her final round as a Leatherneck, Peterman carded a 70, the lowest round of any Leatherneck women's golfer in program history. The senior also finished with the lowest scoring average during a season at 77.8. The squad recorded program lows in three-round, two-round and single round totals during the season, all of which were set the previous year. Thee three-round low of 923 came at the Jackrabbit Invitational. The two-round record was turned in the first tournament of the year at the Western Illinois Invitational. In the final round of the season, the Leathernecks turned in the lowest single round of the season at 303. With just one finish outside of the top five, Western Illinois put together its most successful season to date. Lukkarinen helped the Leathernecks collect 11 top five individual finishes including two victories both collected by Peterman.
In 2009-10, she coached the Fighting Leathernecks to two tournament wins and a fourth-place finish at The Summit League Championship. Western opened the season with a win in the Western Illinois Invitational with Claire Gursh taking medalist honors before the team later won the Loyola Invitational behind Lindsay Wandrey's individual win. The Leathernecks broke a school record for a three-round tournament score with a 932 at the Hotels at Grand Prairie Invitational before breaking the program's two-round scoring record with a 625 at Loyola. Along the way, the Leathernecks twice tied a school record with single team rounds of 307.
The 2008-09 squad won three tournaments — the Western Illinois Invitational, the Green Bay Fall Classic and the Park University Invitational — while grabbing top-five finishes in four others events. The season culminated with a fourth place finish at the Summit League Championship — the team's highest finish since 2005-06 when the league featured only six teams. Senior Becky Allen grabbed a tie for 10th place at the 2008-09 conference championship to earn second-team all-Summit League honors for the fourth consecutive year.
Biehl Lukkarinen coached Western to a fifth place finish in the 2007-08 Summit League Championship with Allen taking sixth place individually. Allen grabbed two top-10 finishes throughout the season to lead the Leathernecks.
During Biehl Lukkarinen's sophomore campaign, each player on the team improved upon her stroke average and Allen placed in the top-10 twice throughout the season. The Leathernecks finished the 2006-07 Mid-Continent Conference Championship in sixth place.
During her first year with the program, Biehl Lukkarinen coached Kara Johnson to the Mid-Continent Conference Individual Championship. Johnson also compiled four first-place finishes in 2005-06 under Biehl Lukkarinen’s tutelage. As a team, the Leathernecks finished third at the Mid-Con Championship. The Westerwinds also captured tournament wins at the Augustana and Park University Invitationals.
A former assistant coach at Illinois, Biehl Lukkarinen was a four-year letterwinner and team captain for the Illini from 1987-91 before graduating to the professional ranks.
Biehl Lukkarinen spent two years on the Future’s Tour where she won one tournament and finished in the top six on the money list.
After her success on the Future’s Tour she spent one full season as an exempt player on the LGPA Tour, playing in more than 20 events and competing in the 1994 U.S. Women’s Open at Indianwood Country Club in Lake Orion, Mich.
Biehl Lukkarinen also has nearly 12 years as a golf instructor. She began her career as head instructor for the golf academy at Eagle Ridge Resort in Galena, Ill. She then spent three years as a teaching professional at Kansas City Country Club where she set the women’s single round course record (65) in 1999.
After a stint as an assistant coach at Illinois in 2001, Biehl Lukkarinen spent three years as the Director of Golf at Oak Terrace Resort in Pana, Ill.
Biehl Lukkarinen is both a Class A PGA and LPGA member and holds an Honors Bachelor of Science degree in finance from the University of Illinois where she graduated with a 4.4 GPA.
She is married to Mike Lukkarinen, a professor in the RPTA department at Western Illinois, and they two have a son, Connor, and a daughter, Kathryn.