Valparaiso University men’s golf fifth-year Caleb VanArragon (Blaine, Minn. / Blaine) started his final collegiate campaign in victorious fashion, polishing off medalist honors in a 120-player field with Tuesday’s final round of the Gene Miranda Falcon Invite, hosted by Air Force at the par-72, 7541-yard Eisenhower Golf Course in USAFA, Colo. Along the way, VanArragon tied a program record for 54-hole tournament score in relation to par. The tournament was played at an elevation of 7,200 feet, requiring the Beacons to adapt to conditions much different from Valparaiso.
How It Happened
- VanArragon finished out the win with a 69 (-3) in the third and final round, following up his 67 (-5) in each of the first two rounds to complete the tournament at 203 (-13). He tied for first with Colorado State’s Christoph Bleier and won medalist honors on the first playoff hole.
- VanArragon was joined in the top 10 by teammate Anthony Delisanti (Sanborn, N.Y. / Niagara Wheatfield), who finished tied for seventh with a 54-hole score of 213 (-3). Delisanti went par or better in all three rounds, including a 72 (E) to cap the tournament on Tuesday.
- Freshman Adam Melliere (Zionsville, Ind. / Zionsville) had the best round of his first collegiate tournament on Tuesday, posting the team’s third-best score of the day with a 73 (+1). Sam Booth (Carmel, Ind. / Carmel) used 76 strokes on Tuesday to finish the event at 223, third on the team in terms of 54-hole score.
- As a group, Valpo finished with a Round-3 score of 290 (+2) to complete the tournament at 864 (E). The Beacons tied for third in a 24-team field, joining UC Davis behind only Colorado State (851) and Wyoming (862). Colorado State reached the NCAA Finals last season. Valpo golfed in the final group of the tournament, which included Colorado State, Wyoming and New Mexico State.
Inside the Round
- VanArragon’s 54-hole score in relation to par of -13 tied his teammate Delisanti’s modern program record in that category. Delisanti established the mark at the 2023 MVC Championship.
- VanArragon’s total score of 203 ranks third in modern program history, behind only a pair of Delisanti marks from last season. Delisanti carded a 200 at the MVC Championship and a 202 at the Zach Johnson Invitational a year ago.
- The team’s 54-hole score of 864 ranks 10th in modern program history. In relation to par, the team score of even par ranks seventh in the program record book for a 54-hole event.
- The Beacons had 45 birdies in the tournament, led by VanArragon, who led the tournament field with 18. He had five birdies on Tuesday including a string of three straight on Holes 11, 12 and 13.
- VanArragon was the tournament leader in par-5 scoring average as well at 4.33.
- This marked VanArragon’s 30th career top-10 finish and his 14th in his last 16 tournaments.
- This represented Delisanti’s 14th career top-10 finish.
- This was VanArragon’s 12th career top-2 finish and his 20th career top-5 finish.
- VanArragon earned medalist honors for the third time in his collegiate career (2022 Dove Mountain Intercollegiate, 2021 Wright State Invitational).
Thoughts from Head Coach Dave Gring
"I'm thrilled with our tournament results for this first event of the season. We only had a couple weeks to prepare for the tournament and the guys were very focused in their practice leading-up to the event. We had a good plan set up to manage the course and the team played at a very competitive level for all 54 holes. Colorado State played in the NCAA Finals last year and we were able to get within four shots of them with only five holes to play. They played terrific down the stretch and we definitely needed to finish the final round better - that is something we will discuss and work on going forward. It was important for us to play in the final pairing of the final round with Colorado State, Wyoming and New Mexico State so we could be as competitive as possible."
"We hit a lot of greens in regulation over the 54 holes. The guys gave themselves a lot of opportunities for birdie. We didn't nearly convert as many birdies as we needed, but that's another area that we will be working to improve. The team adjusted very well to their club distances with approach shots since we were playing at an elevation of 7,200 feet. There was careful attention in selecting the correct club out of the bag for our approach shots so we didn't miss a lot of greens short or long."
"Each one of our players have some highlights to take away from the tournament and some constructive areas to work on this week. Our entire team was excited to watch Caleb secure the individual medalist honors with the thrilling 1-hole playoff victory! Caleb has put so much time into his game and he has played at such a high level of competition this summer that I'm not surprised with his performance. He was really grinding coming down the stretch and executing a lot of good shots to win the tournament. We will have some quality practices this week and look forward to hosting our home tournament this coming weekend."
Valpo will host its annual home tournament next week as the Valpo Fall Invitational takes place on Monday and Tuesday at Sand Creek Country Club in Chesterton.