Crusader men open NCAA Columbus Regional on Thursday
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Crusader men open NCAA Columbus Regional on Thursday
The Valparaiso men's golf team begins play at the NCAA Columbus Regional on Thursday. (David Gring)

The Valparaiso men's golf team will open its first NCAA Tournament appearance on Thursday with the first round of the of the Columbus Regional at The Ohio State University Golf Club (Scarlet Course) in Columbus, Ohio.

Survive and Advance: The Crusaders are one of 13 teams competing in the Columbus Regional. The top five scoring teams after 54 holes and the lowest scoring individual not on one of those teams will qualify for the NCAA Championship May 28-June 2 in Atlanta, Ga.

On the Web: Live stats will be available for each round of play through

Head Coach David Gring: David Gring is in his second season as head coach of the Crusaders. He was named Horizon League Coach of the Year as Valparaiso won three tournaments this season, including a four-shot victory over Cleveland State at the Horizon League Championship in April. The Crusaders placed in the top half of every event except one in 2012-13. Gring played at Valparaiso from 1985-88. He twice earned all-conference honors while playing for the Crusaders.

Taking the Title: Valparaiso entered the final round of the Horizon League Championship with a two-stroke lead over Cleveland State. Through 15 holes of the final round, the two teams were tied. The Crusaders hung tough down the stretch and pulled away for a four-shot victory. Valparaiso had never finished better than seventh at any of the previous HL Championships. Their 54-hole score of 884 was Valparaiso's second-best team score of the season.

Individual Victory: Junior Thomas Wettstein finished up his stellar play over the final month of the season by taking medalist honors at the Horizon League Championship. The victory was the first of his collegiate career. Wettstein fired even-par rounds of 72 in the first two days and trailed CSU's Andrew Bailey by two shots headed into the final round. He shot a 2-under par round of 70 in the final 18 holes (tied for the tournament's second-lowest round) to win by four shots. He was the only golfer to finish the tournament under par.

All-Tournament Honors: Valparaiso had two players earn all-tournament honors for their performances at the Horizon League Championship. Wettstein, who finished as tournament medalist, and junior Kyle Henning (tied for fifth, 223) were both named to the all-tournament team. The victory was Wettstein's second top-10 finish of the season, and it was Henning's fifth top-five finish.

All-League Honors: In addition to David Gring being named Coach of the Year in just his second season at the helm of the Crusaders, two other Crusaders took home all-league honors for the season. Senior Austin Gaugert and junior Kyle Henning were both selected to the all-Horizon League team for their play over the course of the season. Both players were selected to the all-HL team for the first time in their careers.

A Quick Rise to the Top: In the fall of 2009, Valparaiso resumed playing men's golf for the first time since 1992. In four seasons, the program has gone from starting from scratch to Horizon League champions and NCAA Tournament participant. The Crusaders won three tournaments in 2012-13, the first such victores since the team resumed play. Seniors Austin Gaugert, Josh Kalita, Brad Winters (fifth-year) and Andy Webb have been with the program since it resumed play.

Leading the Way: Senior Austin Gaugert led the Crusaders with a 74.7 scoring average, which is the lowest season mark since the program resumed play in 2009. He started the year strongly by finishing second at the Battle in the Tetons with a 3-under par score of 213. Gaugert followed that up with a second-place finish at the Purdue Midwest Shootout (1-over 145). He also placed third and the Bradley Invitational, and he finshed fourth at both the John Piper Intercollegiate and the CSU Cougar Classic. Gaugert was one of two Crusaders to play every round this season.

A Strong Junior Campaign: Junior Kyle Henning tied the second-best single season scoring mark in school history with a 75.2 scoring average in 2012-13. He took medalist honors at the John Dallio Memorial (5-over 221). Henning placed third at the Beu Mussatto Invitational, and he tied for fourth at the CSU Cougar Classic. He also tied for fifth at the Horizon League Championship.

A Pair of Victories: In addition to taking the team title at the Horizon League Championship, Valparaiso claimed two other team titles during the season. The Crusaders won the Purdue Midwest Shootout with a 36-hole team score of 598. It was the first multi-team event victory since the resumption of the program in 2009. Valparaiso also won the Bradley Invitational, leading that event from wire-to-wire and posting a 54-hole team score of 598.