Story by Mallory Tucker, Staff writer
The men’s golf team took home a fifth place finish from the F&M Bank APSU Intercollegiate at The Links at Novadell in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. The Racers finished the first round in first place at 12-under-par and four strokes below their closest competitor, Western Illinois, who finished second overall at the end of the tournament.
Belmont took home first place with a total of 832 compared to Murray State’s 851. Senior Jared Gosser led the team in eighth place with scores of 70-71-68=209 and freshman Gabe Wheeler carded the second-best score for the Racers in 15th place overall and first out of the individuals with scores of 70-69-72=211. Seniors Brock Simmons, Duncan McCormick and Preston French and junior Matthew Zakutney rounded out team play for the Racers, respectively.
“Jared had one of his better tournaments,” said Head Coach Eddie Hunt. “Jared’s very capable of winning any tournament he plays in. Once he’s focused, he’s as good as anybody in the conference, and I think that’s beginning to show. And then we had Gabe Wheeler, who played as an individual, that had an excellent tournament. He’s really played well this year for a freshman. I think we’re down to six players – we have our top five and then our freshman. This next tournament, we’re going to take all six players and I think after that we should pretty much have it nailed down to who’s going to be the five starting the spring season.”
The Racers’ next tournament, Arkansas State’s Fall Beach Classic in Gulf Shores, Alabama, will cap off their fall play. A short turnaround after Austin Peay’s tournament provides the team with barely enough time to catch up in the classroom, which Hunt said was a priority this week.
A three-day, three-round tournament will allow the team to relax more than their usual two-day, three-round tournament set up.
“We always try to have a really good trip – because we played at Martin, we played at Austin Peay, we had our home tournament – we really concentrate on some shorter trips,” Hunt said. “I think there are a couple OVC schools, but there are a lot of teams that we won’t see much of during the year. We get to do some things other than just play golf. That will be a break for the players for sure, being able to play just 18 holes a day. Also, we hope the weather will be nice, although we’ve been very fortunate this fall and the weather’s been pretty good all year.”
The women’s team finished eighth in a field of 16 teams with scores of 313-316-315=944 at Middle Tennessee State’s Blue Raider Invitational in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Middle Tennessee State won their home tournament with a collective score of 883 compared to the Racers’ 944. Sophomore Moa Folke led the Racers in 25th place with scores of 75-81-78=234.
“I’m very excited and pleased with Moa’s play this semester,” said Head Coach Velvet Milkman. “She’s played well, but the thing is, she can play better. And I think she’s very close to that. I’m excited about it. I think she did well and I’m excited about what she can do in the spring.”
Seniors Sophie Hillier and Abbi Stamper followed Folke in 36th and 39th place while freshman Jane Watts took 72nd and junior Sydney Trimble placed 75th. Sophomore Anna Moore entered the tournament as an individual and placed 81st overall.
“I thought it was a good tournament,” Milkman said. “It was close to being a really good tournament. It’s a really good field and tough golf course, and I think our scores didn’t show how well we played at times. We’re disappointed in our finish, but I definitely saw positives, and we’re going to take that into the offseason.”
Now that the women’s fall season is over, their focus has transitioned to preparing for spring play, which kicks off Feb. 22 at South Alabama’s USA Invitational tournament in Mobile, Alabama. In addition to practicing skill work three times a week, the team will be in the weight room building strength, as they’re unable to do so in the regular season.
“I think having four tournaments in a row it’s time to have a break,” Milkman said. “And I think they’re ready for that, but I also think that after about two weeks they’re going to be ready to play again. We’ll keep it competitive – after a little bit of a break, though.”