Expectations High for Men's Golf in 2005-06
Aug. 29, 2005
Fresh off its second consecutive trip to the NCAA Regionals last season, the 2005-06 Indiana men's golf team is ready to venture into the postseason for a third straight year - a feat that has not been accomplished for nearly 30 years. From 1972-77, the Hoosiers advanced to the NCAA Championships six consecutive times, but it has not happened since.
Head coach Mike Mayer kicks off his eighth season with a deep and talented roster poised to build on last year's second-place finish at the Big Ten Championships. A blend of experience and youth, the Hoosiers are poised to continue the upward momentum that currently exists in the Hoosier program. Although four golfers have departed from 2004-05, including two-time All-American Jeff Overton, eight members return and a talented freshman class hopes to keep IU prominent on a national stage.
"My expectations are very, very high for this season," Mayer said. "I think this golf team will be as good as if not better than last year's squad, and we were pretty darn good last year. I think overall we are deeper, have a tremendous amount of depth and are not as top heavy. I really believe we can put five golfers in the lineup that can win any given tournament. I could not say that last year. Last year, we finished second at the Big Tens and made it to the NCAAs. Our goals are simple, we are going to try and win the Big Ten Championships and make it to the NCAA Championships."
Seniors Brad Marek, Scott Seibert and Oren Hodak will be looked upon to lead this team by example on and off the golf course. The trio brings tournament experience and an understanding of what it takes to be a successful collegiate golfer.
Marek netted a 75.68 average in a career-high 22 rounds last season, but his best work came during the summer. The Arlington Heights, Ill., native won three events in his home state and advanced to the quarterfinals at the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. After tying for 22nd in two rounds of stroke play, Marek went on to win three matches to get to the final eight.
In Illinois, Marek captured the Joliet Amateur, the North Shore Amateur, and he won the 75th Illinois State Amateur with a 12-under-par total, the second-lowest score in the tournament's history.
"After what had to be a disappointing spring season for Brad, he had a tremendous summer, topped by his performance at the Public Links," Mayer said. "He played well in a number of events and played in a number of events. Brad should be our No. 1 golfer this year. He might be our most talented player. We are going to look for a lot from Brad and expect to see him at the top of our lineup."
Seibert emerged as a prominent member of the lineup during the spring season, culminating in a tie for sixth place at the Big Ten Championships, the second-best finish of his career after finishing fourth at the Pinehurst Invitational. On the season, Seibert corralled a 74.90 scoring average in 29 rounds and was in the lineup at the NCAA East Regional.
"Scott had a tremendous spring, highlighted by a sixth-place finish at the Big Ten Championships. I hope that showed Scott what he is capable of doing. He is now a senior, and we need Scott in the lineup every tournament," Mayer said.
Although he only played in two events last season, Mayer believes Hodak is ready to see some more action this season. Hodak is coming off a strong summer, where he finished second at the Indiana Southern Amateur and eighth at the Indiana Public Links.
"Passionate, determined, dedicated, tough. Those are all adjectives I would use to describe Oren Hodak," Mayer said. "He comes back for his fifth year, hopefully as determined as ever. Oren really wants to help this team and really wants to play. I think it is going to be extremely difficult to keep him out of the lineup."
In addition to returning three seniors, a trio of juniors come back to give IU a wealth of experience. Along with teammate Aaron Knapp, Aaron Harrell became the first two walk-ons during Mayer's tenure. The Bedford, Ind., native was a pleasant surprise in 2004-05, playing 15 rounds and carding a 75.40 average. Harrell was in the lineup in five of the Hoosiers' final six tournaments, including the Big Ten Championships and the NCAA East Regional.
"Aaron was a nice surprise for us as a walk-on, especially late in the season." Mayer said. "He really contributed to our run in the NCAAs and our second-place finish at the Big Ten Championships. The only thing Aaron is missing is low numbers. If he can learn to put up some low scores, he could help the team and consistently be in the lineup."
Following a freshman season in which he appeared in 10 events and averaged a 75.87, David Butwell did not compete last season. However, he has worked hard on his game this summer, and Mayer thinks Butwell can return to the level he played at two seasons ago.
"David had an outstanding freshman year, but unfortunately he did not play up to his or our expectations last season. He has a tremendous amount of potential and can still help this program," Mayer said. "David had a good, solid summer and worked hard on his game. He needs to re-invent himself this season. After his freshman campaign, there is no reason to think David can't contribute and play for Indiana."
Joining Harrell and Butwell, Tad Sacheck has enormous potential and is awaiting his opportunity to show it off. The Zionsville, Ind., product did not compete last season and has only played in one collegiate tournament, the 2003 Hoosier Invitational, but still could be a factor this season.
"Tad is a player that has all the skills necessary to be a top Division I golfer. If he continues to refine his short game and work on his shots from 80-100 yards in, that will be the difference in Tad's game," Mayer said.
Santiago Quirarte and Knapp are the lone returning sophomores. Quirarte produced one of the greatest freshman seasons in IU history. The Queretaro, Mexico, native completed the campaign with a 74.53 scoring average, the second-lowest mark by a freshman in school history (Jeff Overton - 74.45, 2001-02) and participated in all 12 events the Hoosiers entered. During the spring, he netted three straight top-15 finishes, highlighted by a fourth-place finish at the Pioneer Classic, which earned him Big Ten Golfer of the Week honors. Quirarte's low round of 67 at the Pioneer was the lowest round by an Indiana freshman since Overton fired a 66 at the 2002 FirstEnergy Intercollegiate.
"After a great freshman year and everything he did throughout the summer, Santiago has now made a name for himself," Mayer said. "As one of the top two amateurs in Mexico, he is really developing and continuing to get better and better. Santiago had a great summer and will be one of the players to compete for a top spot on this team."
Knapp pushed his teammates in practice with a strong work ethic and tremendous play, especially during the fall season, and Mayer believes Knapp can be a factor in 2005-06.
"Aaron was a pleasant surprise in the fall, but he got a little bogged down in the spring. It's a long, tough season, and I don't think he was ready for that kind of endurance," Mayer said. "If Aaron gets stronger and hits the ball a little farther, I think he has what it takes to play."
A quintet of talented newcomers will give the Hoosiers the most depth in Mayer's eight years in Bloomington. Drew Allenspach (Sugar Land, Texas/Fort Bend Elkins), Seth Brandon (Dalton, Ga./The Baylor School), Jorge Campillo (Caceres, Spain/Colegio La Asuncian) and Brandon Pike (LaFontaine, Ind./Huntington North) will be joined by walk-on Eric Serch (Barcelona, Spain/Frederic Mistra) to comprise this year's freshman class.
This class is loaded with amateur success as Allenspach has claimed three top-10 finishes this summer, including medalist honors at the 2005 AJGA Fidelity Investment Junior Championship. Brandon carded a fifth-place effort at the 2005 Coosa CC Invitational and won the 2003 individual state title at the Tennessee State High School Championship.
Campillo claimed 13th at the 2005 European Championship, and he has been ranked the No. 1 amateur in Spain on six separate occasions. Meanwhile, Pike netted victories at the 2005 Huntington County Amateur and the 2005 IHSAA Regional, while Serch earned medalist honors at the 2005 Mercedes Trophy and finished runner-up at the 2005 AGFA Trophy.
These are a few of a long list of accolades for the newest Hoosiers, and Mayer cannot wait to get this class competing for Indiana.
"I think this recruiting class will go down as the best freshman class to ever play at Indiana University," Mayer said. "Top to bottom, they are solid. I think they all have a chance to be immediate impact players for this program. I expect them to come in here right away and play. As with any freshman class, there will be some ups and downs, but at the end of the year, when you look back, I expect this freshman class to be the best to ever play at Indiana."
The Hoosiers open its season in Cleveland for a preview of the NCAA Central Regional (Sept. 12-13) before heading to Minneapolis for the Gopher Invitational (Sept. 17-18). IU then returns to the Wolverine Intercollegiate (Sept. 24-25), which is being held for the first time since 2002 in Ann Arbor, Mich., and heads to Chicago for the second annual Big Ten/Pac-10 Challenge (Oct. 3-4). Closing out the fall, Indiana looks for its third consecutive title at the Xavier Invitational (Oct. 10-11) in Loveland, Ohio.
Kicking off the spring season, the Hoosiers travel to Guadalajara, Mexico, for the first of two inaugural events - the Club De Golf Santa Anita North Texas Classic (Feb. 19-20). Up next is the Orange County National Invitational (March 4-5) in Orlando, Fla., followed by the second annual Pinehurst Intercollegiate (March 19-21), which IU will host on Pinehurst No. 8 in Pinehurst, N.C.
Indiana closes out its season with a trio of familiar events prior to the Big Ten Championships. Purdue hosts the Boilermaker Invitational (April 8-9) before Ohio State greets the Hoosiers at the Kepler Intercollegiate (April 15-16). This season's Kepler will be held in Dublin, Ohio, at the Muirfield Village Golf Club, home of the PGA Tour's Memorial Tournament, hosted by Jack Nicklaus. Finally, IU goes to East Lansing, Mich., for the perennial Fossum/Spartan Invitational (April 22-23).
After last season's near miss in Madison, Wis., the Hoosiers are primed to bring home its first Big Ten title since 1998 at the 2006 Big Ten Championships hosted by the Northwestern Wildcats at the Conway Farms Golf Club in Chicago. The NCAA Regionals will take play on May 18-20 with the NCAA Championships taking place from May 31-June 3 in Sunriver, Ore.
"Our schedule is without a doubt the best and most competitive it has been in my eight years at Indiana," Mayer said. "It has continually gotten better, and this year it is our best yet. Our strength of schedule ranking will be very high, which should prepare us for the Big Ten Championships and NCAAs."
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