The Valparaiso University men’s and women’s golf teams have invaded the Sunshine State, looking to bring home the hardware from the 2015 Horizon League Golf Championships at the Mission Inn Resort in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla. this weekend.
The three-round championship tournament starts for both the men and the women on Friday, as both will play 18 holes each of the tournament’s three days. The men’s championship will be contested on the El Campeon Course (par-72; 6,814 yards) and the women’s tournament will be held on the Las Colinas Course (par-72; 6,012 yards).
The Crusader men enter the championship among the favorites to capture the tournament crown, as head coach David Gring looks to lead Valpo to a second Horizon League title in the last three years. Valpo ranks second in the league in team scoring average and has already claimed two tournament championships this season, including a victory three weeks ago at the Wright State Invitational – a tournament in which all seven Horizon League squads competed.
Individually, the Crusaders boast three players among the league’s top-10 in scoring average, all of whom are on pace to better Valpo’s single-season average record. Leading the way is sophomore Nick Seitz with a 73.67 scoring average. Seitz has earned three top-five finishes this year and was named Horizon League Player of the Week after setting new program single-round (65) and 54-hole tournament (206) scoring records earlier this season at the Golfweek Program Challenge.
Also on pace to surpass the Crusaders’ current single-season scoring average record are sophomore Peter Webb and senior Eric Winters. Webb owns an average of 74.05 in his second season at Valpo and has posted a pair of top-10 finishes, earning league Player of the Week honors following his 10th-place finish at the Bash at the Beach Collegiate Invitational. Winters has sliced nearly four strokes per round off his scoring average this year, entering this weekend with a 74.08 average. The senior has three top-seven finishes under his belt this year and received Player of the Week accolades from the league office following a seventh-place finish at the Firestone Invitational.
Rounding out the lineup for the Valpo men this weekend are senior Joe Harris and redshirt junior Jared Magoline. Harris boasts a scoring average of 75.52 on the season and has earned three top-10 finishes this year, including top-five placements at the CSU Cougar Classic and the Dayton Fall Invitational. Magoline enters the league championship with a 75.10 average, which includes a program record-low round of 65 earlier this season, and helped lead Valpo to the Wright State Invitational title with a third-place finish.
Led by head coach Mat Blair, the Valpo women’s squad is bringing a youthful team to Florida for the league tournament, as no seniors are on the Crusader team for this weekend and only two of the five players have competed at the Horizon League Championship in the past. But with a team that ranks fifth in the league in scoring average, just four strokes back of third place, Blair and his team are looking not only to use this event as a springboard into next season, but to make some noise this weekend as well.
The quintet of players which will tee it up for the Crusaders this weekend all have one thing in common – they have all enjoyed immense improvement from last year to this season. Pacing the team is sophomore Angie Kim, who has sliced five strokes off her scoring average from her freshman campaign and enters the Horizon League Championship 10th in the league with a 79.73 average. Junior Sibil Gill earned a fourth-place finish this year at the Bulldog Florida Invitational and owns an 80.21 scoring average, better than two strokes lower from her average last season.
After competing in just four events total over her first two seasons, junior Annie Gaugert has seen action in all nine events this year and ranks third on the team with an 82.80 scoring average. Sophomore Sydney Shrum has cut two strokes from her scoring average this season, entering the Horizon League Championship with an 83.94 average, while freshman Katie Willenbrink has been a consistent contributor for the Crusaders as a rookie with an 84.50 average.
Live scoring for all three days of the Horizon League Championship will be available, with links to it available at ValpoAthletics.com.