NewsVeteran MVNU Golf Squad Ready to Hit the Links in 2004
written by Dave Parsons, Sports Information Director
MOUNT VERNON, Ohio - Coming off one of the best seasons in school history that included a second trip to the NAIA National Tournament in three seasons, the Mount Vernon Nazarene University men's golf team has high aspirations as the Cougars prepare to hit the links in 2004.
After winning the final three tournaments of the 2003 regular season, MVNU won the 12-team American Mideast Conference/NAIA Region IX Tournament to earn a berth in the NAIA National Tournament where the Cougars finished 21st out of 27 teams.
Then, MVNU posted a 22-9 record this fall as the team won the Tri-State (Ind.) University Invitational and finished second at the Indiana Wesleyan University Invitational. With their play in the fall, the Cougars earned their highest ranking ever in the NAIA national poll as the team was listed 15th in the NAIA preseason poll.
"I am really looking forward to another great season this year," said MVNU head coach Mike Meeks, who enters his second season after earning AMC Coach of the Year honors in his debut. "We are coming off a fall season where the players just got better and better, and their confidence is riding high."
The Cougars are led by four seniors who have each played a key role in the team's success over the past three seasons. Brian Bumgarner has put together one of the best four-year careers in school history as he has played in each of the past three NAIA national tournaments - the only player in school history to accomplish that feat. He was also named the AMC Player of the Year after shooting a school-record four-under-par 212 that included a school-record 68 over the final round to earn medalist honors at the AMC/NAIA Region IX Tournament. Bumgarner, who was an NAIA All-American in 2001, has won four tournaments and finished as the runner-up four times in his career.
Nathanael Petry will also look to close out a stellar career that saw him win one tournament last year, finish as the runner-up once, and earn two All-Tournament Team honors. Petry, who also joined Bumgarner on the All-AMC Team for the second straight year, has won one tournament and finished as the runner-up four times in his career.
Scott Snyder, who transferred to MVNU from Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) University after his freshman season, was the runner-up at two tournaments last year and was named to two All-Tournament Teams. He was also an NAIA and National Christian College Athletic Association All-America Scholar-Athlete, and he was the medalist at the Tri-State Invitational in the fall.
Brandon Kenney also returns for his fourth season with the Cougars after missing the 2003 spring schedule with an injury. He led MVNU with a two-day total of 149 at the Brescia (Ky.) University Invitational this past fall.
"This is a very talented group of seniors that has already accomplished a lot and this is their last hurrah," said Meeks. "They want to go out and prove what they can do. They have worked hard during the winter with their conditioning. Now that the weather is breaking, they have been able to get out and start working on their game again."
Junior Raynard Martin will round out the starting five after playing in five tournaments last year and every tournament this fall, while senior Bryce Arndt and freshmen Derek Clark, Jeremy Schlabach, and Dan Yost will improve their skills by competing as at-large players as members of the "B" team.
"If this team keeps its confidence up and plays within their abilities, I feel that the sky is the limit this season," said Meeks.
Following a week of practice at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, MVNU will get its spring season under way on March 26-27 at the Malone College Invitational. The team will also travel to tournaments host by Shawnee State University, Urbana University, Walsh University, Cedarville University, Otterbein College, and the University of Indianapolis (Ind.). In addition, the Cougars will travel to the Southeastern Kentucky Intercollegiate Invitational and will host the McKnight Group Cougar Classic on April 16-17.
Then, MVNU will look to defend its AMC/NAIA Region IX Tournament title when the 2004 event takes place at Apple Valley Golf Course on April 29-30 with an automatic berth in the NAIA National Tournament on the line. This year's NAIA National Tournament will take place in Olathe, Kansas, on May 17-21.