Golf Swings Into Action

The men and women golf teams look to duplicate top-ten finishes in the country from last season

<span class='credit'>Photo Courtesy of Doug Witte, GVSU Photographer</span><span class='description'>Following Through: Senior Eric Lilleboe tees off in the Super Regional, which went on from May 4th to May 6th of this year.</span>
Photo Courtesy of Doug Witte, GVSU PhotographerFollowing Through: Senior Eric Lilleboe tees off in the Super Regional, which went on from May 4th to May 6th of this year.

The men’s and women’s golf teams will try to duplicate top-ten national success from a season ago.

The men’s team tied its best finish in school history as it placed eighth at the 2009 NCAA Division II Men’s Golf Championships. The women tied for sixth place at the 2009 NCAA Division II Women’s Golf Championships.

Both the men and women are coached by Mike Mignano. Mignano enters his third season as the man in charge of taking both the men and women to top-ten finishes in their respective national tournaments last year.

The Bulldogs have two of the top scorers returning in seniors Eric Lilleboe and Kurt Valley. Lilleboe and Valley were both selected to the First Team All-GLIAC (Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) last season. They also shared the team’s Most Valuable Player award in 2008-2009.

Returning players also include senior Pat Steffes and junior Joe Brown. Mignano feels that the 2009 team is the best he has seen.

“This is the strongest team we’ve ever had, without a doubt,” said Mignano.

An experienced group will lead the team this season as eight of the 11 team members are upperclassmen. The team consists of three seniors, five juniors and two sophomores. Mignano has high hopes that this team will be very successful.

“Our goal is to basically win the conference, win regionals, and win nationals,” said Mignano.

The key loss from the 2008-2009 season was Kelbi Lee, a 2009 PING Division II Third Team All-American. Lee was tied for first place overall after four rounds of play at the 2009 National Championships and was defeated in the first playoff hole.

The men’s GLIAC Championships will take place Oct. 3 – Oct. 5 in Marquette, Mich. and be hosted by Northern Michigan University.

The women’s team finished the 2008-2009 season in a tie for sixth place at the 2009 NCAA Division II Women’s Golf Championships. It marked the sixth consecutive year in which the Ferris State women had made an appearance at the NCAA Championships.

Almost a complete opposite of the men’s team, the women return with only one upper classmen in junior Jacqueline Benscoter. Five sophomores and two freshmen round out the roster. Mignano is excited about the youth on the team.

“It will be a different feel to the team but we’re looking forward to it,” said Mignano.

<span class='credit'>Photo By: Kristyn Sonnenberg | Photo Editor</span><span class='description'>The Swing: Preseason photo of sophomore Bryce Hetchler.</span>
Photo By: Kristyn Sonnenberg | Photo EditorThe Swing: Preseason photo of sophomore Bryce Hetchler.

The top three scorers from the 2008-2009 season, Alison Meyer, Raquel Hansen, and Meghan Hunter, all completed their eligibility. Meyer, Hansen and Hunter each earned All-GLIAC honors a season ago

Sophomores Bryce Hetchler and Erin Fuchik were both Second Team All-GLIAC selections last season and are the top returning scorers. Hetchler was also named to the Division II NGCA All-America Scholar Team. Sophomores Blaize Baumgartner and Breezy Bernth return after seeing considerable action last season.

Mignano stresses success not only on the golf course, but also in the classroom. He said the goal for the men and women is to have a team grade point average of 3.5 or higher this season.

The women’s season begins on Sept. 5 as the Bulldogs host the Ferris State Bulldog Invitational, while the men open their season one week later at the Saginaw Valley State Invitational on Sept. 12.