A record-setting performance by Caleb VanArragon (Blaine, Minn. / Blaine) helped him cruise to medalist honors with an eye-popping margin of victory at this week’s Valpo Fall Invitational, hosted by the Valparaiso University men’s golf program at the par-72, 7054-yard Sand Creek Country Club course in Chesterton, Ind. VanArragon’s historic showing helped the Beacons roll to the team crown in the nine-team, 63-player event, which wrapped up on Tuesday with the participants battling wet and rainy conditions.
How It Happened
- There was little doubt about VanArragon taking medalist honors, which he closed out by carding a 68 (-4) on Tuesday. His glowing 54-hole score of 201 (-15) was 16 strokes better than the next closest competitor, runner-up Artemiy Yalovenko of DePaul. VanArragon had the best 18-hole score in the tournament field in each of the three rounds.
- The Beacons hoisted team championship hardware after finishing the 54 holes with a stroke count of 869 (+5). The team battled its way to a 292 (+4) while facing difficult weather conditions for Tuesday’s final round. The hosts outdid runner-up Evansville by 13 strokes for the team title. Bradley rounded out a top three that featured all Missouri Valley Conference programs.
- Sophomore Owen Sander (Carmel, Ind. / Carmel) completed an incredibly consistent tournament by producing another 84 (+2) in Tuesday’s round. That was his score in each of the three rounds, adding up to 222 (+6) to help him achieve a top-10 finish at t-9.
- The second-best round by a Beacon behind only VanArragon on Tuesday came courtesy of Sam Booth (Carmel, Ind. / Carmel), who had his best showing of the tournament with a 73 (+1) to climb to t-14 on the player leaderboard. Freshman Adam Melliere (Zionsville, Ind. / Zionsville) joined him at t-14 as both golfers finished the event at 226 (+10).
- Valpo battled through adversity to earn the tournament crown with both the weather and lineup absences wreaking havoc. Two of the team’s top three golfers were sidelined this week as Anthony Delisanti (illness) and Mason Bonn (injury) did not compete.
Inside the Rounds
- VanArragon lifted an individual medalist trophy for the second time in as many tournaments this season just a week after winning Air Force’s Gene Miranda Falcon Invitational. He won medalist honors for the fourth time in his collegiate career.
- VanArragon finished in the top two in a tournament for the 13th time in his career while also achieving his 21st top-5 finish and 31st top-10 finish. He has finished in the top 10 in 15 of his last 17 tournaments.
- The Beacons defended their home tournament crown, winning the event for the second straight year. Last year’s Valpo Fall Invitational also marked the squad’s most recent team title prior to Tuesday, but they notched three team runner-up finishes last season as well.
- VanArragon’s 54-hole score in relation to par of -15 shattered the previous program record of -13, which was set by Delisanti at the 2023 MVC Championship and matched by VanArragon last week at Air Force.
- VanArragon’s 54-hole tournament score of 201 ranks second in program history, a single stroke behind Delisanti’s 200 at the 2023 MVC Championship.
- The team’s 54-hole score of +5 ranks tied for 10th in program history.
- Valpo led the field in both par-4 scoring (4.21) and par-5 scoring (4.70).
- VanArragon led the tournament on all three variations of holes, averaging 2.92 on Par 3s, 3.80 on Par 4s and 4.33 on Par 5s.
- Valpo produced 42 birdies, tied for the most in the tournament with Evansville.
- VanArragon accounted for a tournament-most 16 of those birdies.
- VanArragon eagled the par-5 first hole in Round 3.
Thoughts from Head Coach Dave Gring
“The sweetness of winning never gets old! The entire team channeled all of its preparation and abilities into our home tournament and we were blessed with a team victory that we will remember for a long time. With a couple of our players out of our lineup with sickness and injury, we had others totally step up to play very well for us. We showcased the depth that we have on our team the last couple of days, along with the determination to play well on our home course. This is one of the most gratifying victories that I have been a part of in my 13 years as head coach. Despite another day of steady rain and wet conditions, each one of our players really wanted this team championship, and they played with a lot of heart and grit in each round.”
“Out of the three rounds, the golf course played the most difficult in today’s round. The pin positions were very challenging, and the guys managed the course well to put themselves in positions to attack those pins. Our birdie production was lower today than the first two rounds, but we still made a lot of important pars and kept our margin against Evansville. I was very pleased with how we kept ourselves out of big scores on holes and how we played the Par 3s. We had another solid start to our final round, maintained a good margin during the middle of the round and finished the tourney with some steady pars.”
“What a tremendous tournament by Caleb! Coming off an emotional medalist victory at Air Force, Caleb wanted to finish his final home tournament with a victory, and he did it in resounding fashion. I’m not sure if I have ever seen an individual player lead every scoring statistic in a tournament. He led every player stat category (Par 3, Par 4 and Par 5), showcasing the incredible balance in his game. While his ball-striking actually wasn’t his best, his chipping and putting were exemplary and that led to his birdie production. Our team was thrilled for his victory, our team victory and we already can’t wait to compete in our next tournament.”
The Beacons will have a week off from tournament play before taking part in the Mark Simpson Colorado Invitational beginning on Monday, Oct. 2 at Colorado National GC in Erie, Colo.