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Golf Swings Into Action

by Published: Aug 26, 2009

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.