Story by Collin Morris, Contributing writer
The Murray State golf team kicked off their fall play on Friday, Aug. 21 with their qualifying tournament to determine their representatives for the upcoming invitational tournament.
Head Coach Eddie Hunt begins the season with a noticeably youthful squad (headlining only three upperclassmen in a roster of ten), but remains optimistic regarding the structure of his team.
“I think I brought in a really strong freshman class,” Coach Hunt said, “They’ve all had great high school careers and I think they all have potential to compete for Freshman of the Year or the All-Newcomer Team.”
The lack of experience will certainly leave room for prospects to move into production roles more quickly, and Coach Hunt already has some players identified.
“Matt [Zakutney] is the only player we have returning that played in the OVC Tournament last year,” Hunt said, “And typically you want experience, but we have Gabe Wheeler, who was on the All-Newcomer Team last year, freshman Avery Edwards, who finished fourth in the State-Am last year and Austin Knight, who set a course record at his home course in Hopkinsville with a 60. I’m really looking for those three to step up.” But the veteran coach has no guarantees for his players.
“With a young team the fall season will be trying to figure out who’s going to be in the lineup and who’s going to be in the top five,” he said. “There will be some up, and downs and maybe even a different lineup for every tournament, but we’ll have a set lineup going into the spring and there’ll be six or seven players in the hunt to join that lineup.”
However, this season is not only about the up-and-comers; Coach Hunt also had high praises for his lone senior Matthew Zakutney, from Paducah, Kentucky.
“I expect great things out of Matt this season,” Hunt said. “He’s got a lot of experience, a great work ethic and I think he’ll be a great leader of this young team. “I’ve made a lot of lifelong friends here and I’ve really enjoyed going to school here and playing golf here,” Zakutney said.
Zakutney worked hard to earn himself a major role on the Racer golf team each of his four years and even played in the OVC Tournament his freshman year, but he has not stopped setting goals for himself and his team.
“I definitely want us to win the OVC. The team level is my top priority. I’d love to win an individual title but winning the OVC, getting the NCAA tournament and trying to win all of the tournaments would mean more to me,” Zakutney said.
Hunt, Zakutney and the rest of the Racer golf team begin their fall season on Monday, Sept. 12 at Frances E. Miller Memorial Golf Course for the two-day MSU.