The 2005 Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Men’s Golf Championship will take place this Saturday and Sunday at Bunker Hills Golf Course in Coon Rapids, Minn. Defending champion Saint John’s is among a group of five teams that are expected to contend for the title. Joining the Johnnies in the title chase will be Augsburg, Concordia, Gustavus, and St. Thomas.
The Johnnies, who have won two titles this fall and are currently ranked seventh in the Golf Coaches Association of America poll, return four players from last year’s squad. Those returners include all-conference performer Chad Michelson (Sr., Marshall, Minn.), Andrew Longbella (Jr., Chippewa Falls, Wis.), and Kyle Frederickson (Sr., Eagan, Minn.). The Gusties, who have won one title this fall and are currently ranked tenth nationally, also have three returning players including all-conference performer Jon Hagedorn (Sr,, Blue Earth, Minn.), Clayton Johnson (Sr., Anoka, Minn.) and Mark Stuckey (So., St. Peter, Minn.). Gustavus and Saint John’s have combined to win the last nine MIAC titles with the Gusties winning five times (1996, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2003) and the Johnnies winning four times (1999, 2000, 2001, 2004).
Concordia, which is led by senior Drew Dvorak (So., Litchfield, Minn.), won the Carleton Invitational last weekend and comes into the tournament with good momentum. Dvorak, a returning all-conference performer, won medalist honors at the Carleton Invite. St. Thomas, which is led by senior Pat Bohn (Plymouth, Minn.), has posted fourth place finishes at the St. Thomas and Saint John’s tournaments. Bohn claimed medalist honors at the Saint John’s Invitational. Augsburg, which is under the direction of new co-head coaches Ted Vickerman and Jim Rustad, has posted a second place finish at the St. Thomas Invite, and a third place finish at the Saint John’s Invite. The Auggies, are led by junior Erik Helgerson (Chisago City, Minn.), who shared medalist honors at the St. Thomas Invitational.
Five players who finished in the top ten a year ago and earned all-conference honors will return to play in this year’s tournament. That group includes Chad Michelson of Saint John’s, who placed second, Jesse Polk (So., Hastings) of Saint Mary’s, who tied for third, Brian DeLaitsch (Jr., Owatonna, Minn.) of St. Olaf, and Drew Dvorak of Concordia, who tied for sixth, and Jon Hagedorn of Gustavus, who tied for eighth.
Bunker Hills Golf Course, which is hosting the tournament, took a big hit recently when severe storms passed through the Coon Rapids area. The course lost more than 600 trees in the storm, however Gustavus Head Coach Scott Moe commented that the course is in fantastic shape due to the hard work of the grounds crew, “The fairways are immaculate and the greens are putting true and fast. You can clearly see that trees are missing, however the course is in fine shape, especially considering the circumstances.”
The tournament will begin on Saturday morning at 11:15 as Gustavus, Saint John’s, and St. Thomas will tee off. Bethel, Augsburg, and Concordia will tee off beginning at 11:55 am, and Macalester, Saint Mary’s, St. Olaf, Carleton will tee off beginning at 12:35 pm. Tee off times on Sunday will begin at 11:15 am on Sunday, however, the groups will change according to place after Saturday’s round.
This will be the 70th year that the MIAC has sponsored a team championship for golf. Gustavus leads all schools with 24 titles, followed by Macalester with 11.