As the weather warms up, the Valparaiso University men’s golf team returns to the links for the 2011 spring season, looking to build upon the success of the fall.
Head coach Mike Higdon returns six players for last year’s inaugural team, and added a pair of talented freshmen to the mix, both of whom made significant contributions to the lineup during the fall slate. During the six events in which the Crusaders competed during the fall, Valpo consistently found itself in the middle of the standings in just year two since the program was resurrected.
Austin Gaugert, who led Valpo during the spring of 2010, dropped more than a stroke off of his scoring average from last year to this fall, and posted a 76.0 mark in the five events in which he played. He tied for second in the triangular match against Green Bay and Chicago State and is the school record-holder for an 18-hole round after carding a 67 last year.
Josh Kalita and Brad Winters both saw their scoring mark drop by more than two strokes this fall and both posted a 76.8 scoring average. Kalita shot a low round of 72 in the fall, his collegiate best, while Winters carded a 69 at the Butler Fall Invitational, sharing the team’s honor for low round of the season.
Higdon’s two freshmen were also among the top three scorers during the fall campaign. Kyle Henning led the way for the Brown and Gold with a 74.3 strong average, including three rounds in which he shot under par. The rookie posted a pair of top-five finishes for the Crusaders, and led Valpo in four of the six tournaments. He turned in the team’s low tournament scores of 218 and 148 for 54 and 36 holes respectively. Henning also carded an 18-hole round of 69, sharing the season low for the team.
Freshman Thomas Wettstein also made a big impact in the Valpo lineup in his first competitive season, averaging 76.2 for the Brown and Gold. He also carded a 69 over 18 holes and had a pair of top-10 efforts.
Sophomore Andy Webb also saw action in three events for the Brown and Gold during the fall. He shot a collegiate best round of 73 for Valpo at the Skyhawk Classic, and finished the fall slate up with a scoring average under 80.
Andrew Beischel and Adam Gray both return to the roster for the spring as well. Neither played during the fall schedule, but both were instrumental in Valpo launching the return of the golf program in 2009-2010.
The Crusaders are slated to play in four events this spring prior to the Horizon League Championships. The season will open March 28-29 at the Butler Spring Invitational before Valpo heads to Tennessee State to open April. The Crusaders will also travel to tournaments hosted by Kentucky and Ball State before heading to Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla. for the Horizon League Championships April 22-24.
With so many young players on the roster, Higdon will continue to look for improvement within the Crusaders as the new season opens. Valpo has already made major strides from fielding the team one year ago, and now looks to move up the leaderboard at each tournament in which the Brown and Gold compete.