Golf 2013 Season Outlook
The Wilmington University men’s golf team is the lone Wildcat program to ever reach its respective National Tournament and ninth year head coach Harry Jennings has put his team there in each of the past two years.
The goal remains the same for the 2013 squad, coming off back-to-back Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Tournament Championships and last season’s NCAA Division II East/Atlantic Super Regional Tournament Championship. The Wildcats are looking to make a push to again win the CACC Tournament, the Super Regional Tournament, and reach the top eight teams at the National Tournament.
Jennings bolstered his coaching staff for 2013, bringing back a former assistant coach while adding an old conference rival to the mix. Longtime assistant Mark Hall returns for his fourth season with Jennings, and according to Jennings, is “one of the best teachers of the game out there.” Hall will again assume the role of the swing analysis coach, helping each student-athlete with their individual game.
Bill Bush returns to the staff after heading the Appoquinimick High School golf program for the past three seasons. Bush will take over as the team’s equipment specialist where he holds certifications in every original equipment manufacturer offered to golfers. He specializes in rebuilding or building new clubs to exact custom fitting, meeting the needs of a golfer’s individual swing technique.
Pete Stevens rounds out the staff, coming over after a successful reign at Post University. Stevens led Post to the National Tournament a season ago and battled Wilmington for the top spot in the CACC year in and year out. He offers his vast knowledge of the international game to Jennings, helping in recruiting and bringing more overseas players to Wilmington.
Jennings has eight student-athletes that will vie for five playing spots for each tournament. CACC Tournament and NCAA Division II East/Atlantic Super Regional Individual Medalist PJ Tighe returns for his senior season in hopes to lead the Wildcats back to the top of the region.
Andrew Baldo is back for his junior season after finishing 10th at the CACC Championship Tournament held at the Whitemarsh Valley Country Club in Lafayette Hill, Pa. Newcomer Andreas Lunding will look to join Baldo and Tighe atop the leaderboard at each of the team’s four tournament leading up to the CACC Tournament.
“Without those three guys playing well, it will make it harder to win Conferences and Regionals again,” Jennings said of his those three golfers. “The other four spots are going to be open to seven guys each and every week. We are going to travel with all eight guys and everyone will play in a ‘play-in’ round during the practice day to see who is going to make the tournament’s field.”
Other than Tighe who has proved he deserves to be on the course day in and day out, Jennings sees each tournament having a different five guys. That is how close the competition between the entire team is in 2013.
Returning for his second year on the team is Jerry Temple who played in five tournaments last year, also finishing 10th with Baldo at the CACC Tournament. Both Nick Mafale and John Perrine return for their senior seasons while Matt DiEleuterio hopes to make a splash in his sophomore campaign. Thomasz Pulsakowski is a newcomer from Poland who is able to compete for a top five spot at every tournament as well.
“Across the entire roster, we are a better team than last year,” Jennings said of his team. “Even though we didn’t really prove it in the fall, we should be a stroke better as a team per day. That’s three stroke over an entire tournament which can really make a difference.”
The team will start the spring season with a highly competitive tournament out west at the 63rd Annual SoCal Intercollegiate hosted by UC San Diego. They team will then return home to play in the Bayside Invitational hosted by Dowling in Bethany, Del. After a year hiatus, the Wildcats will host their own tournament at Back Creek Golf Club starting on March 28 before heading back out for another tough nationwide tournament at Barry University. Following the Buccaneer Invitational, the Wildcats will look to defend their CACC crown starting on April before round out the regular season with a local tournament hosted by Goldey-Beacom.
“The region has gotten a lot better and closing the gap across the board,” Jennings said of the East and Atlantic regions which square off in the Super Regional Tournament. “Post is still there in the CACC and Concordia has stepped up with the recruiting. Everyone is inching closer. The gap is closing in the region, which is a good thing.”
The Wildcats have had a different offseason this year, as Wilmington University has opened a new athletics facility in Newark, which the golf team has been able to train and get ready for the season earlier than ever.
“Having the turf and new facility has really given us a head start as compare to previous years,” Jennings continued. “We can now get outside even when the courses in the area are closed over the winter and work on some things.”
The Wildcats begin the season with a three round tournament in Mission Viejo, Calif., starting on March 11. The 63rd Annual SoCal Intercollegiate boasts some of the best teams across all eight regions of the country for an early season showdown.
Jennings concluded, “We’ve had our chanced to get ready this preseason. We’re hungry. The guys are hungry and want to get back out there.”