Golf 2014 Season Outlook
The Wilmington University golf team has improved its standings in each of its three NCAA Division II National Tournament appearances, but 10th year head coach Harry Jennings is looking for the Wildcats to take the next step and play past the three opening rounds of the National Championship in 2014.
The Wildcats have made the National Tournament in each of the past three seasons, finishing 19th, 16th, and 15th, respectively, as a team. The top eight teams after three rounds advance to the head-to-head portion of the National Championship, and that is where Jennings wants his team at the end of the year.
Wilmington’s spring tournament season begins March 15th at the Bear Trap Dunes Invitational in Ocean View, Del., with the Wildcats confident after a productive fall season against the country’s top teams.
The Wildcats finished the fall season with a pair of third place finishes, first at the Otter Invitational in Monterey, Calif., finishing ahead of teams like Chico State, CSU-Stanislaus, UC San Diego, and other teams that are also regulars at the NCAA Division II National Tournament. The team closed out the fall with another third place finish at the Dennis Rose Invitational in Waikaloa, Hawaii, again competing against some of the best the west region has to offer.
Jennings and the Wildcats are going to rely on the experience of its senior class, as Andrew Baldo and Jerry Temple have been playing for Wilmington for the past three years. Classmate Tomasz Pulsakowski came into the program as a junior, but gained valuable experience with his chance in the NCAA Division II Atlantic/East Regional and National Championship.
The team also returns last year’s Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Rookie of the Year in Andreas Lunding, who missed both the Regional and National Tournaments last year due to an injury during the practice round of the Regional Tournament.
The depth of the 2014 Wildcats goes even deeper than last year, as junior Matt DiEleuterio returns for his third season, joining a cast of newcomers for their first championship season for the Wildcats. Sophomore Alex Healy appeared in the NJCAA Division II National Tournament in 2013 before coming to Wilmington over the winter while freshmen Sam Clark, Freddy Braun, and Jun-Yong Ahn battled and competed for a spot in the Top-5 during the fall. Freshman Alexander Lautenschlaeger joined the group during the winter and will also look to crack the Top-5 and make some noise in his first season as a Wildcat.
“This is the most depth I’ve ever had in my 10 year tenure here,” Jennings said of his 2014 squad. “Everyone in our Top-8 can crack the lineup this year. Every tournament could have a different lineup. It may depend on the course; if its long or short, or if its tight or open. That’s how deep we are this year.”
Unlike the fall, the Wildcats will remain closer to home in the spring, playing a couple regional tournaments in addition to the Jim Bishop Spring Classic hosted by North Alabama and the Buccaneer Invitational hosted by Barry in late March.
The team starts with the Bear Trap Dunes Invitational hosted by Dowling this weekend before heading to North Alabama and Barry to end the month. The team then returns north to play in the St. Thomas Aquinas Spring Invitational in Berlin, Md., before heading to the CACC Tournament in early April.
The Wildcats will look to make it four straight CACC Tournament Championships starting on April 7 at the Whitemarsh Valley Country Club before the top 10 teams in the region meet for the Atlantic/East Super Regional starting on May 5.
“This is a very disciplined group,” Jennings continued. “They do not make any excuses and work hard all the time, despite not being able to get on a course until earlier this week. This group has the best course management and mental strength as a whole that I’ve ever had.”
The NCAA Division II Atlantic/East Region Tournament will be hosted in Charleston, W.Va. at Edgewood Country Club starting on May 5 with the top three teams earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Division II Championship. The National Tournament is being hosted in Allendale, Mich., in 2014 at The Meadows Golf Club starting on May 19.