Men’s golf claims NESCAC qualifier

Chris Valle ’12 follows through after a shot on Saturday. Valle tallied a 149 two-day total in the Ephs’ victory last weekend.
Chris Valle ’12 follows through after a shot on Saturday. Valle tallied a 149 two-day total in the Ephs’ victory last weekend.

Men’s golf triumphed at last weekend’s NESCAC qualifier at Waubeeka Golf Club. After the Ephs fired 10 rounds in the 70s, the men not only took the tournament win but also secured the opportunity to host the NESCAC Championship at the recently renovated Taconic Golf Club in the spring.

After finishing Round One with a 297, six strokes behind Hamilton, the Ephs demonstrated great skill and consistency to post a team total of 298 for Round Two. The team’s tournament total of 595 put the Ephs two strokes ahead of Hamilton, eight strokes ahead of Trinity and 13 strokes ahead of Middlebury. These top four finishers received an automatic bid into the spring NESCAC Championship. Whichever team prevails at the NESCAC Championship will secure an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships.

Despite Saturday’s less than ideal weather, which resulted in eight players finishing their rounds on Sunday morning, the Ephs posted solid scores. Improved weather on Sunday helped the team to even better rounds. Bob Camp ’11 posted matching 74s for a two-day total of 148. Jake Wagner ’11 finished tied with Camp, dropping two strokes from his Saturday score of 75 for a Sunday score of 73. One stroke behind, Chris Valle ’12 showed similar consistency, carding an impressive 73 on Day One followed by a 76 on Day Two. Jack Killea ’11 had two good days on the course, shooting rounds of 76 and 75. Wyatt Sparks ’13 finished out the scoring with a 75 on Saturday followed by a 77 on Sunday.

Though NESCAC regulations stipulated that only five Ephs could compete in the qualifier, four other team members posted impressive numbers over the course of the weekend at Waubeeka. Demonstrating the depth of skill on the Eph squad, Jack Ervasti ’13 posted a 149, followed by Ryan Brand ’13 with a 150, Drew Murray ’11 with a 156 and Siwol Chang ’12 with a 157.

The men felt that they had fulfilled their goal for the fall season. “We have been working towards this point all season long, and it feels incredible to accomplish what we have wanted for over a month now,” said Valle. “We owe our success this weekend to the fact that we are a consistent team from top to bottom. We do not have one star who will carry the other four players for the weekend, but rather we have five guys who will battle their way through a round knowing that the entire  team is counting on them. More than this, we have four or five other players pushing us to play our best and challenging us for our spots on the team. We proved this weekend that we are a force to be reckoned with and hopefully this will carry us into a successful spring season.”

Head Coach Rick Pohle was also impressed with his team. “Our players are proud of the accomplishment,” he said. “We beat some very good teams this weekend and proved that we can compete with them. The team scores in the NESCAC have improved greatly over the past few years. The gap between the top teams and the ones that have struggled is narrowing. That is a credit to all the coaches and players in this conference. We are getting contributions from everyone on our team (not just the starting five) – we have a lot of options for each event and that is a pretty good thing as a coach to have, and I think the players understand that.”

Camp and Wagner received First Team All-NESCAC honors for their efforts. Valle and Killea were Second Team, and Pohle was named Coach of the Year.

The Ephs hope to maintain their momentum as they head into next weekend’s Hamilton Invitational, which will be held on the Yahnundasis and Skenendoa Golf Courses.

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