The chance for a second-straight GLIAC tournament championship title came up just short for men’s golf after falling to top-seeded Davenport in the final round.
The Bulldogs began the tournament with the third best team score of 584 (+16 overall) in Friday and Saturday’s opening rounds. This gave Ferris the third overall seed going into the semi-finals in Sunday’s tournament, slating a rubber match of last year’s championship vs. Grand Valley State.
“We knew that going into GLIACs we needed to win it in order to make it into regionals,” Josh Jeffords said. “Once we made the medal match and saw we would face Grand Valley, we knew we had to play some of our best golf.”
Thanks to early victories in the head-to-head matchups from Jeffords and Andrew Proctor, the Bulldogs only needed one more victory to clinch a trip back to the championships. While Grand Valley snuck in two wins, Nathan Kraynyk’s six-shot win in the number four pair closed the deal.
In the following title match, the Bulldogs faced the number one-seeded Panthers. After a tightly contested match going into the final two holes, Davenport held on and edged Ferris by a score of 3-2.
“(I’m) gutted for this group,” Stark said via Twitter. “They worked extremely hard to put themselves in position to win a championship. There’s no better group to represent our program and school.”
While they didn’t earn a second straight conference title, the Bulldogs have still put together a quality season that isn’t finished yet. Before the conference championship, the Bulldogs had turned in some quality regular season performances, including several top 5 and top 10 finishes for both individuals and the team overall.
Men’s golf team finishes this spring:
• BrownGolf Intercollegiate: 13th place, score of 623
• SVSU Spring Invite: 7th place, score of 606
• Findlay Spring Invite: 7th place, score of 876
• The Cav Classic: 3rd place, score of 878
• Bill Blazer Memorial: 3rd place, score of 590
Looking back at these spring tournaments, Coach Stark believes the team has improved tremendously since the fall.
“We played way below our capabilities in the fall,” Stark said. “We all took some time over the winter to reassess our processes and how we approached each day. We had an excellent off season, and the hard work has paid off with some solid results this spring.”
One of the biggest boons for the men’s squad this year has been the ability for lower ranked players on leaderboard to step up. Throughout the five tournaments prior to the GLIAC Championship, Ferris saw four different players hold the top team spot. This included Nathan Kraynyk, who finished an impressive two-under par to take podium honors at the Bill Blazer Memorial.
“My ball-striking felt very good throughout the whole round,” Kraynyk said on his hot second round. “I was lucky to have some putts drop late in the day to help the team make a charge.”
Men’s golf individual finishes this spring:
• BrownGolf Intercollegiate: Shayne Beaufait (8th overall)
• Saginaw Valley State Spring Invite: Thomas Hursey (8th overall)
• Findlay Spring Invite: Joshua Jeffords (9th overall)
• The Cav Classic: Thomas Hursey (1st overall)
• Bill Blazer Memorial: Nathan Kraynyk (3rd overall)
When reflecting on this beneficial shift, Stark said his team’s response has negated a common problem with other programs.
“I tell our teams that the spring is always the time with the most turnover in the lineup. Our team has done a good job of being prepared to step up when called upon, because that’s by far the most important factor when you get to the postseason.”
The Bulldogs now hope for a selection into their 18th trip to the NCAA regional round since 2003. The men’s squad finished 10th overall in the midwest/central Super Regional round last season, only six spots away from reaching the National Championships.
“If we do end up making it to regionals, we are going to focus on keeping our games sharp,” Jeffords said. “A few of us struggled on driving accuracy as well as putting and short game, so putting more focus on those areas to improve will be key for us to be playing our best games.”
For more information on the men’s golf team and regional selections, visit the “Men’s Golf” tab at ferrisstatebulldogs.com.