The Valparaiso University men’s golf team has announced a highly-regarded recruiting class for the 2018-19 academic and athletic year.
The Crusaders will welcome a trio of talented freshmen next fall – Charlie Toman, Garrett Willis and Lance Picton. All three are ranked in the Top 10 within their home state – Toman second in Ohio, Willis ninth in Indiana and Picton 10th in Arizona, according to the Junior Golf Scoreboard rankings.
Toman, who is No. 154 nationally, was ranked first in the state of Ohio for a period of time over the summer. He won a pair of Ohio state championships as a freshman and a senior, breaking a scoring record by going seven strokes under par as a senior. He also won the Hudson Junior Invitational (-4), the Otter Creek Ajga (-10) and three HJGT tournaments.
Toman shot a 64 in tournament play on two occasions in 2017 and has racked up nearly 100 wins in his career. He reached the 2016 U.S. Junior Amateur, shooting five under to qualify (71-68). He owns nine wins in 2017 alone, seven of which were multiple day tournaments. The talented Toman went under par in eight of his nine victories.
In addition to his excellence on the course, Toman has thrived in the classroom, where he earned National Honor Society membership and received academic honors every year of high school.
“Charlie brings an enormous amount of tournament success with his high school team and playing in summer events to our team,” Valpo head coach Dave Gring said. “The amount of tournaments that this young man has won over his junior career is astounding, indicative of his desire to win and work ethic in practice. Charlie is meticulous with his short game practice; he’s one of the best wedge players and putters that I've seen. He is extremely accurate off the tee and sharp with his irons.”
Picton has also excelled both on the golf course and in the classroom. He holds a 4.33 cumulative grade point average, has made his school’s honor roll each semester and owns a class ranking of ninth of 377.
Picton, who plans to major in microbiology or pre-med, is a four-year varsity letter winner, four-year Southern Arizona All-Stars honoree and a recipient of First Team Honors for all divisions during his junior and senior seasons. He helped his team reach the state high school tournament each year, earning four sectional championships and an Arizona Division II state runner-up finish during his freshman season.
"Lance brings a lot of tournament experience to our team, with great success all four years of his high school career,” Gring said. “His high school resume is very impressive, playing golf throughout the entire year in Arizona. Lance is a smart player, putting a lot of thought into his course decisions and managing his emotions well while in competition. His game is very balanced, displaying excellent accuracy off the tee and a strong short game.”
Willis brings a long list of accomplishments with him to Valpo. He earned a place on the 2017 all-Golfweek Junior Tour team, is a two-time Golfweek Junior Tour champion, won USF’s The Claw (75-74) and won the 2017 GJT Tour Championship at the University Club of Kentucky (70-72-66). He was also a 2016 IHSAA sectional individual medalist and regional runner-up, two-time state finalist and two-time member of the Fort Wayne News Sentinel All-Area Team.
“Garrett was part of a tremendous high school golf program, where he had a lot of success all four years,” Gring said. “He is a strong player, with a lot of length and accuracy with his driver, 3-wood and long irons. I've always been impressed with his ball striking and his course management, making a lot of good decisions on the course. Garrett is a solid competitor with an awesome appetite for winning.”
Away from the course, Willis is a six-semester honor roll recipient, two-year first chair trumpet player in Homestead Jazz Ensemble and the voice of Homestead football and girls basketball on WCYT The Point. He was a sports broadcasting award winner at IASB and a three-time award nominee for International Broadcasters Society Conference in NYC. In addition, he was Homestead’s Homecoming King and a member of the school’s student ambassadors.
“All three of these young men showcase the exceptional balance of strong competitive golf results and marvelous success in the classroom,” Gring said. “These three players will continue the essential elements and identity of our team - champions on the golf course and phenomenal students in the classroom. The support system that all three have surrounded themselves with is awesome - great families, talented swing and high school coaches, gifted teachers and more. Our team could not be more excited to welcome this class to our program and we are already looking forward to next year.”