For the second consecutive season, Valparaiso University men’s golf sophomore Anthony Delisanti (Sanborn, N.Y. / Niagara Wheatfield) is the Missouri Valley Conference Championship medalist.
After making a miraculous comeback in the third and final round at last season’s championship, this year Delisanti was near the top of the leaderboard from the outset and led the tournament for much of the final two days. The route to get there was different, but the end result was identical, as Delisanti once again stands alone atop the conference and has earned an automatic NCAA Regional berth.
“This year, I did most of the hard work in Round 2,” Delisanti said. “I finished up yesterday pretty solid and built a lead for myself. Today, I was able to play freely and not worry about how anyone else was doing. I stuck to my game today and made a bunch of pars. The course was playing a little tougher today and was a little windier in a different direction. To win it back-to-back years, I’m really proud of myself for playing really well at this tournament two years in a row. I’m really appreciative of my teammates and coaches for helping get me ready to go.”
Valpo finished as the team runner-up for the second consecutive season (849, -3), with Illinois State earning team championship hardware. Delisanti shattered the MVC Championship record and the modern program record with his 54-hole score of 200 (-13). Following the tournament, he was named MVC Golfer of the Year and earned All-MVC status for a second straight season.
Caleb VanArragon (Blaine, Minn. / Blaine) also achieved a top-10 finish (211, -2, t-8th), earning the MVC Elite 17 Award for his academic and athletic prowess for a third straight year while garnering All-MVC honors for the fourth consecutive season.
How It Happened
Inside the Round
Thoughts from Head Coach Dave Gring
“This was a competitive conference championship for us, and I'm super proud of our guys, how well they played for the past three days and how they represented our team and Athletic Department. We are certainly disappointed that we came up short of our primary goal for the season and the opportunity to advance to the NCAA Tournament as a team. We had our second-best tournament score of the entire season and our fourth best single-round team score of the year in the first round and it took a record tournament score by Illinois State to beat us. Congrats to the Redbirds on a great tournament and they will represent our conference very well in the NCAA Regionals.”
“Sitting nine shots back going into the final round, we knew that we needed to play very well today and each player needed to beat the Illinois State player in their group by a couple shots. We’ve overcome that type of deficit before, so we had to start quickly and try to get out to an early lead. We played the Par 5 first hole at five under with three birdies and an eagle, so we had the start that we needed. The Redbirds matched that same result on the first hole, so we knew we had our work cut out for us. We weren’t able to narrow the gap after the front nine, playing it even par as a team, compared to five under for Illinois State. We played the back nine at four over and the Redbirds played it at five over, and we could never get any momentum going to challenge them on the day. We gave six shots back to par on the last two holes, which were two of the toughest for the round. The guys played with poise and passion all the way to the end, and I’m most grateful for that effort."
“Our birdie production was better in today’s round versus the second round. We had 15 birdies and an eagle on the day. I’m really proud of the fact that we had five guys play 54 holes each and we didn’t have a single double or triple bogey on the scorecards. Even though we played the Par 3s at seven over today, we were +11 for the tournament, and that was another solid effort. Our Par-5 scoring was the best of the three rounds today, but still not enough to catch Illinois State.”
“We really had some terrific efforts by our guys over these three rounds. Yianni didn’t have the tournament he was desiring, but he kept battling all the way down to the last hole and he demonstrated leadership. Owen played the second and third rounds for us very solidly, with scores of +3 and +1. Sam was consistent for us all three rounds in the fifth spot, shooting 73, 74 and 74. Our Captain Caleb VanArragon added another Top-10 finish to his resume and returned to campus with a number of MVC awards and accolades from his record-breaking season. Anthony had a masterful performance and the best individual tournament that I have ever seen for our team, with his record-breaking 13 under par finish. With only one bogey and 14 birdies on his scorecard over 54 holes, his overall play was transcendent. He played with such confidence and poise the entire tournament, and our team is thrilled that he will be representing us in the NCAA Regional next month.”
More Thoughts from MVC Medalist Anthony Delisanti
On the Differences Between Last Year’s Win and This Year’s Win: “I’ve never slept on a lead in college golf before, so this was a different feeling than I’ve been used to. Last year, I let everything go and tried to make as many birdies as I could in the final few holes. This tournament was much different; I was trying to make pars everywhere. I wasn’t playing overly aggressive; I was sticking to my game.”
On Playing His Best Golf at MVC Championships: “The work that you put in once the fall season ends in the weight room and in the golf room over the winter and getting outside when we can all go a long way toward finishing the season strong. Honestly, it goes back to my high school hockey days. We would always talk as a team about trying to play our best hockey at the end of each year. I learned a lot from playing hockey and just trying to get our team’s game to be the best it could be at the end of the season. I’ve taken that and put it toward the golf season. It’s a grind. Each semester is a grind, and you want to play your best at the very end.”
On His Preparation for NCAA Regionals: “I’m just sticking to the plan that I’ve been executing the last few weeks, and trying to get outside as much as I can when it’s nice out. I’ll be sticking with the workouts from Coach (Bob) Brooks and staying with the routine I’ve been using.”
The NCAA Men’s Golf Selection Show will air on the Golf Channel at noon Central Time on Wednesday, May 3. Delisanti will find out his NCAA Regional destination at that time. NCAA Regionals will be held from May 15-17.
Josh Kirkham, Bradley
Roy Radke, Bradley
Felix van Dijk, Illinois State
Valentin Peugnet, Illinois State
Max Kreikemeier, Missouri State
Lucas Sherf, Drake
Trey Lewis, Murray State
Braden Hoisington, Southern Illinois
Anthony Delisanti, Valparaiso
Caleb VanArragon, Valparaiso
Elite 17 Award: Caleb VanArragon, Valparaiso
Golfer of the Year: Anthony Delisanti, Valparaiso
Newcomer of the Year: Jack Schoenberger, Belmont
Coach of the Year: Ray Kralis, Illinois State