Golf sets sights on cracking top ten at NCAAs

Entering his 20th season as head coach of golf, Rick Pohle will be looking to guide his Ephs back to the NCAA tournament after an extremely successful fall season in which the Ephs defended their NESCAC crown. An NCAA tourney appearance in 2002 would be the seventh consecutive for the Eph golfers. The 2002 team’s goal is to try to finish in the top ten at the NCAA tournament. A year ago the Ephs finished 17th.

Last fall, Pohle’s squad won the NESCAC crown by 18 strokes over Little Three rival Amherst. The success in the fall did not end with the Div. III competitions; the Ephs went on to finish 13th out of the 36 teams at the New England (all divisions) Golf Championships, third among Div. III teams. The success in the fall was achieved without three of the more experienced Ephs, who were studying abroad for the fall semester.

Co-captain Will Sicks ’03 finished off his stellar fall season by winning the New England Div. III individual title with a two-round total of 144. Sicks’ 144 placed him third in the field of 230 Div. I, II and III players. For his efforts, Sicks was selected for the All-Tournament team for Div. III and was named to the All-New England First Team. At the NESCAC Championships, Sicks was also honored as the conference Player of the Year as the medalist in the event.

Sicks, a co-captain, is one of a trio of returning competitors who played in last year’s NCAA Championships along with David Mihm ’03 and Max Montgelas ’03. In the championships last year, Sicks was the top finisher among the Ephs (33rd), Mihm was 70th and Montgelas finished 93rd.

Montgelas was the second highest finisher among the Ephs at the fall 2001 New England Championships with a two-round total of 161, and the junior is also a veteran of NCAA tourney play. Mihm studied away last fall so it may take him a while to get his groove back. His 70th place finish at last year’s NCAA tournament showed he has the ability to play tough courses consistently. Mihm shot 77-76-78-81 in last year’s NCAA event.

Sicks, Mihm and Montgelas were all named to the District I 12-member team in the spring of 2001.

Pohle lost two NCAA tourney-tested players to graduation in John McCoy ’01 (tied for 87th) and Bob Stanton ’01 (101st), but several talented candidates remain who will vie for the opportunity to land another NCAA tourney invite and contribute at the event.

Ross Koller ’04 had a breakout fall campaign with a second place finish at the NESCAC Championships, being named First Team All-NESCAC, NESCAC Rookie of the Year and placing fourth among the Ephs at the New England Championships.

J.T. Ervin ’02 finished in second place at the NESCAC Championships in the fall and earned First Team All-NESCAC honors. Ned Wydysh ’04, the 2000 NESCAC Rookie of the Year, made Second Team All-NESCAC with his eighth place finish at the 2001 NESCAC Championships. He also finished third among the Ephs at the New Englands.

Co-captain Phil Bartow ’02 will be counted on for leadership by what is still a very young Eph squad. Indeed, the team features the talents of three seniors, five juniors, three sophomores and two first-years. It will be up to Bartow and Sicks to help the team gel together in the early going and to allow the underclassmen to benefit from their experience.

Aaron Flink ’03, back from studying away during the fall semester, will be looking to re-gain the form he showed as a sophomore when he earned First Team All-NESCAC honors.

The bar has been set very high for Williams golf the past six years by being a constant at the NCAA tourney, and now Pohle and his Eph squad want to take the next step and crack the top ten at the NCAA tournament.

The Ephs’ highest previous finish was 10th in 1999 when the NCAA tournament was hosted by the Ephs on the famed Taconic Golf Club .

The golf team, fresh off a convincing 15-6 win over arch-rival Amherst in Port Lucie, Fl., is now ranked 13th in the latest Precept NCAA Division III Golf Coaches Association Poll.

So far this spring the Ephs have been ranked 14th, 12th and now 13th for the second time.

“I would have to say that this year’s trip ranks as one of the best all around efforts by the entire team,” noted Pohle. “We had the opportunity to practice more than our teams of the past and as a result, I think that scores were far more consistent as a team.”

Pohle’s golfers will have their first northern competition on Thursday, April 11th when they travel to Stow, Mass. to play in the Massachusetts Intercollegiates.