Story by Mallory Tucker, Staff writer
Four senior golfers look to achieve one common goal at the summation of the 2015-16 golf season: to win an OVC Championship title.
“All I have to say is mark your calendars for the OVC Championship,” senior Jared Gosser said. We’re going to be making noise this year. We’re going to bring an OVC championship to Murray State. We’re bringing it home.”
The team’s quest for the title begins Monday with the first two rounds of their home tournament, the Murray State Invitational, at Miller Memorial Golf Course. Tuesday, the team will play a third and final round, officially ending the first tournament of the fall season.
Captains Brock Simmons and Preston French echoed Gosser’s sentiments, hoping to lead the team by example both on and off the course, especially the team’s two freshmen, Gabe Wheeler and redshirt Lance Davis.
“We can just lead by example more than anything,” French said. “Just do what we’ve been doing and hopefully they’ll pick up on some of the stuff that’s brought us success over the last couple years and keep the trend going.”
“We finished pretty good last year, so we’re just trying to carry over and finish kind of how we are,” Simmons said. “We’ve got a pretty good team this year. I just feel like we’ve got some young guys that could be really good, so we just try to be as good of leaders as we can.”
Wheeler, as one of those “young guys,” is already stepping up and may have claimed a team spot during the Invitational.
“Right now, he’s in the top five,” senior Duncan McCormick said. “He’s a really good golfer.”
High expectations are evident from the seniors after last year’s three-way tie for second place at the OVC Tournament.
“This year, out of the last four, we probably have the most expectations,” McCormick said. “We were second in conference last year, so we’re looking to build on that. Truly, we think we can win conference play.”
The team played 10 total qualifying rounds in order to both determine their top five golfers and to create a sense of team competition.
“It’s kind of just what comes with playing golf,” French said. “You always have a little bit of a chip on your shoulder. You’re playing for your team, but you’re also playing for your spot every tournament.”
Starting the season at home and practicing in ideal weather, the Racers feel prepared and excited to face new competition. After hosting their home tournament, the Racers will continue straight into conference play at tournaments hosted by Souther Illinois University at Edwardsville, UT Martin and Austin Peay, respectively.
While Gosser says there’s still some rust to shake off, he’s seen several golfers playing consistently, despite the last tournament they all played in taking place over the summer.
With qualifying rounds coming to a close and practice rounds quickly approaching, anticipation for the start of the season, the pursuit of titles and gauging their conference competition are the overarching messages from each senior.
“We’re all looking forward to the season,” Gosser said. “We have four seniors that can step up and really make some noise this year.”