MVNU Golf Team Looks to Make its
Mark in 2003
MOUNT VERNON, Ohio - Coming off the best fall season in school history and returning five of the top six golfers from last year's squad that finished as the NAIA Region IX Tournament runner-up, the Mount Vernon Nazarene University men's golf team has set its sights high as the Cougars prepare to open the 2003 season.
After winning one tournament and finishing as a tournament runner-up twice last spring, MVNU began play this fall with the goal of making some noise on the NAIA national level this year. The Cougars backed up that plan by posting an impressive 31-3 mark that included two tournament titles, one runner-up finish, and a third-place finish at the National Christian College Athletic Association National Tournament in Seneca, South Carolina.
"I am very excited about the upcoming spring season," said new MVNU coach Mike Meeks, who is in his first year with the Cougars. "There is just so much potential on this team. After going 31-3 in the fall, the players have seemed to realize how good they can be, and their individual work habits have shown during the winter."
Individually, MVNU is led by three seniors. Chad Gress has put together one of the best four-year careers in the program's history, and he added to that by being the medalist at one tournament last spring and finishing as the runner-up at another event. Gress, who was an NAIA Honorable Mention All-American in 2001, was named to two All-Tournament teams and selected as the team's Most Valuable Player by his teammates in 2002.
Joel Meeks returns for his second season after transferring to MVNU from Columbus State Community College. He was the Urbana University Earlybird Invitational medalist last spring. Meanwhile, Ben Sharrock rounds out the senior class as he begins his fourth season with the team.
A strong junior class will add to the experience factor in 2003 as the Cougars look to this foursome to provide solid rounds. Brian Bumgarner leads the way after making the American Mideast Conference Team last spring and winning two tournaments this fall. Bumgarner, who has played at the NAIA National Tournament in both of his previous two seasons, was an NAIA All-American in 2001.
Nathanael Petry returns for his third season after finishing as the AMC/NAIA Region IX Tournament runner-up in 2002. He was also named to the AMC Team. Scott Snyder, who transferred to MVNU from Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) University, also returns for his second season with the Cougars. He was the runner-up at the Urbana University Invitational this fall, and he was also named to the NCCAA Academic All-American Team. In addition, Brandon Kenney has continued to show improvement as he returns for his third season.
Four sophomores - two returning players and two newcomers - round out the roster for MVNU in 2003. David Yingst and Raynard Martin both saw action last season and in the fall, and their games have continued to improve. Newcomers Bryce Arndt and Chris Ebersole have also joined the team and will provide added depth.
"We have plenty of talented players on our roster this season," said Meeks. "I really expect to see a lot out of our second team this year also. This will be the first time they have played any type of schedule. We have five tournaments planned for them this season, which should add to the experience factor for next year's team."
The Cougars, who are ranked 23rd in the NAIA preseason poll, are scheduled to get their season under way on March 20-21 at the Glenville State College Invitational in Parkersburg, West Virginia. Then, following the team's spring trip to Pinehurst, North Carolina, for several days of practice rounds, MVNU will begin the rest of its schedule that includes tournaments hosted by Malone College, Shawnee State University, Walsh University, Cedarville University, and Saint Vincent (Pa.) College. The Cougars will also play at the Southeastern Kentucky Intercollegiate Invitational and at the Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.) University Invitational as well as in their own tournament on April 18-19.
Then, the team will take part in the AMC/Region IX Tournament at the Apple Valley Golf Course on May 1-2 with an automatic berth in the NAIA National Tournament on the line. This year's NAIA National Tournament will take place in Palm Coast, Florida, on May 20-23.