Following two solid performances to finish the season, the Cardinal golfers are feeling optimistic about their squad’s future. With the likes of Occidental College and Trinity in attendance, Wesleyan ended up placing 13th out of 20 teams at the Blazer Invitational hosted by Elms College on September 26th. The team shot a cumulative 659 with help from a 27th place showing from Zach Lambros ’17, who shot 76-81. In addition, the Cardinals were able to outplay Colby and Bowdoin and place 8th of 10 at the NESCAC qualifier tournament, led by an 84-79 weekend total from Captain Paul Andrick ’16.
Wesleyan’s finish at the Blazer Invitational is one of the strongest showings they’ve had in recent memory.
“It was a good week for the team and I,” Lambros said. “It was a great course set up with a lot of opportunities. Personally, I got a few days of much needed practice earlier in the week, which helped me get back to my swing a little bit. [On the course], I kept the ball around the greens, and when I put it in a good spot I made some putts.”
Other Wesleyan finishers at the Blazer included Andrick (80-86, 55th), Andrew Rachlin ’18 (83-85, 61st), Brian Gerner ’18 (85-87, 67th), and Emmet Daly ’18 (90-83, 71st). The squad had a fair showing overall, but Lambros is still looking to improve.
“I would have personally liked to have finished off Sunday a little better,” Lambros added. “I played 16 good holes and two bad ones, which really cost me in the end. But I was just glad to help out the team, and it was good to move up in the rankings a little bit. As a competitive golfer, my goal is to always post the best score I can to win and help my team win. And if you’re not first you may not necessarily be last, but they don’t give high-fives for the middle pack.”
Much of the team is hungry to improve and make an impact; Rachlin, one of the many talented sophomores on the unit, is also hoping to develop.
“My personal season was very up and down, so I can’t say I am very satisfied with how I performed overall,” he said. “However, I did contribute some strong rounds, which definitely attributed to our best finish this season. As the past season progressed, we definitely grew stronger as a team; I have a very optimistic outlook for the coming spring session.”
It also seems as if the Wesleyan administration is finally acknowledging the growing legitimacy of the golf team.
“The athletic department is building us an indoor hitting range so that we can practice throughout the winter,” Rachlin said. “This will immensely help our team’s ability to stay competitive with other NESCAC teams through the offseason, and better prepare us for spring.”
At NESCAC qualifiers, the Cardinals shot 686 as a team—and while eighth place might not seem like a stupendous outing, it is a significant milestone for WesGolf.
“Our result at the NESCACs was encouraging for the next few years of WesGolf,” Lambros said. “We produced the highest finish Wesleyan has seen at NESCACs in the past six years, on an extremely difficult golf course in very hard conditions. After a rough first day, we rebounded the second day to climb up a few slots in the standings. The fall certainly showed that WesGolf has some potential moving forward in the next few years, and if we commit to the program and push it forward, I know we can easily become one of the better teams in the NESCAC.”
Having contributed earlier in the year at the Williams and Duke Nelson Invitationals, Colin O’Keeffe ’17 also shared his thoughts on the road ahead for Wesleyan.
“Our focus in the offseason is to prepare for the Little Three championship this spring hosted by Amherst,” O’Keeffe said. “The format is match play as opposed to the usual stroke play, which certainly works to our squad’s advantage. Many of us didn’t perform as well at the NESCACs as we had hoped. However, considering we lost to both Colby and Bowdoin last year but beat both this year, that was certainly exciting.”
With Andrick being the only senior on the team, the golf team has a radiant future ahead of it, and its goals are being adjusted appropriately.
“We are always looking to improve and move forward, aiming at the pièce de résistance, which is a bid in the NCAA’s,” Lambros said. “But it’s a process. First we must qualify for NESCACs, then we must win NESCACs. And as the saying goes… ‘Brick by brick, my son.’”