A razor-tight finish saw the Valparaiso University men’s golf team tie for the runner-up position with North Dakota State, just five strokes behind team champion Wright State at the 15-team Crusader Collegiate, which concluded on Tuesday afternoon at Sand Creek Country Club in Chesterton. Valpo was neck-and-neck for the tournament lead throughout the round as the team title came down to the final hole of the day.
How It Happened
- Valpo finished the 54-hole event with a team score of 858 (-6), enjoying a t-2 finish in the 15-team field. Wright State is the defending Horizon League Champion and golfed in an NCAA Regional last year. The Raiders finished strong to fend off Valpo and a North Dakota State team that had an eye-popping score of 274 (-14) in Round 3.
- Two Valpo players were involved in a three-way tie for runner-up honors. Van Holmgren of North Dakota State was the individual medalist at 207 (-9). Valpo sophomores Charlie Toman (Chardon, Ohio / Notre Dame-Catholic Latin) and Garrett Willis (Fort Wayne, Ind. / Homestead) shared runner-up recognition with Wright State’s Austin Schoonmaker at 211 (-5).
- Willis led the team with a 69 (-3) in Round 3, while Toman posted a 71 (-1). Freshman Caleb VanArragon (Blaine, Minn. / Blaine) also hit par with a 72 (E), finishing the event at 219 (+3), tied for 22nd.
- Junior Jack Juskow (Greenville, S.C. / Hamilton Southeastern) contributed a solid round with a 73 to finish the tournament seven over.
- Golfing as an individual, senior Jeremy Wu (Medford, Ore. / St. Mary’s) followed his career-low 71 in Round 2 with a 73 in Tuesday’s final round. He finished the event at 220 (+4), tied for 25th overall.
Inside the Round
- The 54-hole team score in relation to par of six strokes under was the second-best in Valpo history and the best since the 2014 Golfweek Program Challenge (-22).
- The total score of 858 was also second-best in program history and the best since an 842 in 2014 at Golfweek.
- For the second straight round, Valpo entered the program’s all-time Top 10 in 18-hole score on Tuesday. After tying for second in program history with a 282 in Round 2 of the tournament, Valpo followed with a mark of 285 that is now tied for seventh.
- The team score in relation to par of three strokes under in Tuesday’s round is also tied for seventh in program history.
- A day after matching a career best with a 70 in Monday’s afternoon round, Willis shattered that personal record with a 69 (-3) to close out the tournament.
- With their three-round scores of 211, Willis and Toman are now part of a tie for fifth in program history. The last time a Valpo golfer went 211 or better over 54 holes was Peter Webb at the Earl Yestingsmeier Invite on April 14-15, 2017. Their t-2 finish was the best by any Valpo golfer since Webb was the medalist of the Hoosier Invitational on April 2, 2017.
- The team finishing tied for second marked Valpo’s best team finish in an event that featured more than four teams since winning the Wright State Invitational on April 5-6, 2015. The 15 teams marked the largest field that Valpo has ever finished first or second in. The last time Valpo was the runner-up or winner in a tournament with 10 teams or more was Sept. 16-17, 2014, the John Piper Intercollegiate (2nd/12).
Thoughts from Head Coach Dave Gring
“Our coaching staff felt that the team prepared very well for our home tournament with a good plan to attack the course, execute our short game and manage the course well. That may seem like an understatement, but the guys were ready to roll before the tournament started and during all three rounds.”
“We never seemed to be uptight or nervous or quick with our pre-shot routines throughout each round. The guys played with a lot of poise and confidence and we hit a lot of good shots off the tee and into the greens yesterday and today. We had times today that we absolutely needed to hit a chip close to the hole or make a putt and the guys got it done.”
“Our team is still young and to basically be tied on the last hole of the tournament with a chance to win was a thrilling opportunity. While we came up short, the guys were focused and you would not have known that it was all on the line. It was a tremendous experience for us and it's going to leave a little chip on our shoulder as we progress through our season."
“Charlie and Garrett had nine birdies and an eagle between the two of them today. These two guys hit a lot of good shots today and throughout the tournament. Their shot execution was really good and they played very smart, not getting themselves into poor positions on the course. It’s encouraging see our two sophomores leading the team in this tournament, and it's a great confidence boost for them and their games this season.”
Valpo will return to the course on Monday, Sept. 30 to take part in the Zach Johnson Invitational hosted at Glen Oaks CC in West Des Moines, Iowa.