NewsTalented Young Cougar Golfers Ready to Tee it up in 2005
written by Dave Parsons, Sports Information Director
MOUNT VERNON, Ohio - Heading into the 2005 spring season, the Mount Vernon Nazarene University men’s golf team will be starting a new chapter in the history of the program following the graduation of four of the team’s top five players last year and the addition of a new head coach.
With just one senior and no juniors, the Cougars will be a young squad. However, each member of the team has been working hard over the winter and competition to make the top five for tournaments will help to make the whole squad better.
Chris Huff, a former MVNU golfer from 1995-1999, will take over as the head coach of the Cougars after spending three seasons as an assistant coach with the program. Huff faces the challenge of replacing four seniors who made two trips to the NAIA national tournament as a team with one player earning a third trip as an individual. MVNU was also consistently ranked in the NAIA national poll over the past four years.
Huff and the Cougars will rely heavily on the leadership and experience of Raynard Martin, the team’s lone senior. Martin has put together a solid four-year career and looks to cap it off with a strong finish in his final season. He won the Tiffin University Invitational Old Fort Bank Shootout in the fall, and he has experience at many of the tournaments that the team will compete in this spring.
"Raynard has the potential to win the American Mideast Conference Tournament this year and earn Player of the Year honors,” said Huff. "He has played on previous successful teams, and he knows what it takes to improve on his game and win. He has a great work ethic and will be a great motivator to the other players on the team.”
Sophomores Derek Clark and Jeremy Schlabach are the only two other returning players for the Cougars. Clark is coming off an outstanding fall season in which he averaged 79 that included a low score of 73 at the Tiffin Invitational. Meanwhile, Schlabach posted a 78 and a 77 at Tiffin in the fall, and he will be counted on to contribute this spring.
"Derek is continuing to get better after posting several scores in 70s as a freshman and playing in several amateur tournaments over the summer,” said Huff. "Derek should have a great spring as he has worked hard during our winter workout program. Jeremy also had a good fall, and we will depend on his scores this spring. I love his work ethic. He works harder than anyone on the team, and he is always wanting to get better at his game.”
Five talented freshmen round out the roster for MVNU this year. Kyle Vanover had rounds of 78 and 79 in the fall and shot a pair of 83s at the National Christian College Athletic Association Tournament in Panama City, Florida. "Kyle has a great love for the game,” said Huff. "He is always looking for ways to get better. He has great enthusiasm about golf and life, and he has a super golf swing and is a mentally tough player. I am excited to see how well he plays this spring, and I see great things in his future.”
Michael Willi came into the program following a great high school career and is the only left-handed player on the team. He saw action in two tournaments in the fall. "Michael loves the game and has unbelievable talent,” said Huff. "He recorded a hole-in-one and shot some very good scores in our practices during the fall. He has worked very hard with his swing and has made great progress. I see him shooting some low scores this spring.”
Philip Beard saw action in one tournament in the fall and came very close to qualifying in practice for two other tournaments. "Philip is so close to making our top five,” said Huff. "He has worked very hard during the winter and has rededicated himself to practicing more. He had a great junior golfing career and wants to shoot the same scores this spring. He has learned how to improve on the mental aspects of his game, and he is a great individual who is absolutely addicted to golf.”
John McClure and Jeff Dauterman are the final two newcomers on the team. McClure did not see action in any tournaments in the fall, but he has been working hard and making improvements during the winter. Dauterman has joined the team this spring when a roster spot opened up. "John is a great person, and he loves the game and is committed to getting better,” said Huff. "He has already made some changes to his game that should help him in future tournaments. Jeff is a positive person, who has added some enthusiasm to our team. He loves to practice and has had some good accomplishments in his high school career.”
MVNU will get the spring portion of its schedule under way on March 17-18 when the Cougars travel to the Glenville State (W.V.) College Invitational. Then, the team will leave for their spring trip to Santee, South Carolina, for a week of practice rounds.
Following this final tune-up, MVNU take part in seven tournaments beginning with a one-day event hosted by Milligan (Tenn.) College. The Cougars will travel to tournaments hosted by Shawnee State University, Urbana University, Walsh University, Cedarville University, and Ohio Dominican University. The team will also host its own tournament on April 15-16 at Apple Valley Golf Course.
Then, MVNU will take part in the 2005 American Mideast Conference/NAIA Region IX Tournament on May 5-6 at Apple Valley Golf Course 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 24-27.
"My goal as a coach this spring is to build our program back up to the caliber that it has been over the past few years,” said Huff. "These players only need some experience to help get us back to the national level again.”