St. Peter, Minn. – The 2013 MIAC Championships will be held this weekend and the Gustavus Adolphus men’s golf team is poised to make a run at its second straight title. It has been since the 2002 and 2003 seasons that a Gustavus team has won back-to-back MIAC Championships, an opportunity that Head Coach Scott Moe is looking forward to.
“Our approach this year doesn’t change,” said Scott Moe. “We know what it takes to win this tournament and we’re going to stick to what has brought us success in the past. It’s a three-day event and I told the guys yesterday that it’s a marathon not a sprint. If we go in with that attitude and get off on the right foot, I think we’ll be in pretty good shape.”
The Gusties won last season’s conference meet with a three-day 885 (+21), which was the fourth best team total in the seven years since the MIAC moved to a 54-hole format in 2006. Gustavus will have to do without three of its top five from a season ago, losing Alex Kolquist, Trevor Gervais, and Coby Rowley to graduation. Replacing four-year staple Alex Kolquist will be the biggest challenge, as Kolquist took home individual medalist honors last season in what was the best three-round performance in the history of the MIAC and Gustavus. The Hermantown product shot a nine-under-par 207, shattering the previous MIAC record of 213 set in 2009 and the former Gustavus record of 216 shot in 2006.
“When you lose those upperclassmen like we did with the Alex, Trevor, and Coby, it obviously makes a huge impact – especially in golf where you only have five spots to work with,” said Moe about the transition of his lineup from last year. “To fill that void you look for guys with good energy who are excited to be there. Things get rough when they start adding pressure on themselves, so as long as they keep their head in it and treat it like any tournament, they’ll be fine.”
The responsibility of filling the void at the top of the Gustavus lineup will fall on the shoulders of senior captains Tyler McMorrow (St. Cloud, Minn.) and Andrew Oakes (Hermantown, Minn.). Along with their ability to make a run at the podium, what McMorrow and Oakes bring to the table more than anything is experience. The battle-tested pair has never missed an outing in their four years on the hill, as this will be the fourth and final conference tournament of their Gustavus careers.
“Both Tyler and Andrew have a comfort level at Bunker and they will both use that to their advantage this weekend,” said Moe about the experience of his senior captains. “Oakes has struggled a little bit this fall, but he is going to enter the tournament knowing that he has earned multiple All-Conference honors at this course for a reason. He has always played well at Bunker and that will add a great deal to his confidence come tee-off.”
About McMorrow’s role, Moe stated, “Tyler is a competitor and I expect him to go out and play his game. He’s the tone-setter who will put us in the position we need to be in come Monday. He’s led us all season and we expect him to do the same this weekend.”
Oakes enters the tournament a two-time All-Conference performer, placing third in 2011 with a 223 (+7) and fourth in 2012 with a 224 (+8). After an up-and-down fall, the senior will look to find his swing at the course where he has averaged a 75.7 per round over nine rounds of MIAC Championship golf. Oakes heads into the weekend ranked fifth on the team in stroke average at 78.6 after 11 rounds.
Tyler McMorrow will hold down the No. 1 spot after pacing the team this fall with two tournament finishes inside the top 10. He averages a team-best 74.8 (2nd/MIAC) in 11 rounds, and shot a four-under-par 66 against MSU, Mankoto, matching his career-low. The St. Cloud native earned All-Conference honors for the first time in his career last season with a fourth place finish alongside Oakes with a 224 (+8). McMorrow averages a 76.6 in his career at Bunker Hills.
Matt Jensen (Sr., Edina, Minn.), Andrew Brandt (So., Medina, Minn.), and Andrew Krasaway (So., Hermantown, Minn.) will round out Scott Moe’s top five, as all three will be competing in their first MIAC Tournament this weekend.
Leading the trio is Matt Jensen, who was just recently named the MIAC Men’s Golf Athlete-of-the-Week for his performance at the Twin Cities Classic. Jensen carded an eight-over 222 at the three-day meet to finish in a three-way tie for second place amongst a field of 100 golfers. He ranks second on the team and 12th in the MIAC in stroke average at 76.4 (11 rds.).
“The goal for the rookies in this tournament is to keep it around 75, which in tournament golf is a great number,” commented Moe about his three newcomers. “We don’t want them to go out and try to shoot even par because so often we see a player make an early bogey, get frustrated, and then try to force birdies the rest of the round. At that point, his game is completely off. Bunker is a course where you can’t force things – you just have to let it play out. If they know that a few bad swings are bound to happen and are able to minimalize the damage on those holes, they will certainly be in better shape throughout. We have to be realistic with our expectations and play our game.”
Andrew Krasaway sits third on the team with a 77.3 average after nine rounds, and Andrew Brandt sits sixth with a 79 average after 11 rounds.
“The conditions look rough for the weekend, but that’s something we’ve battled through before,” concluded Moe. “Nobody expected Kolquist to do what he did last year, but it’s important that we stay within ourselves and not worry about what the rest of the field is doing. We’ll do this as a team, playing Gustavus golf.”
There is one change to this year’s MIAC Championships regarding how the top individuals are honored. Before, the top 10 including ties were named All-Conference. This season, those players will be named to the All-Championship Team Monday. They will also automatically earn All-Conference honors in addition to up to five at-large selections, which will be announced with the rest of the MIAC Golf Awards following the spring season.
The MIAC has an event page featuring all the links and information to follow the action throughout the tournament. The conference, with the help of its teams, will provide scoring updates online during each round and those links will be available Saturday. Following the conclusion of each round, the event page will feature results, recaps and multimedia coverage of the championships, as well as updated pairings and tee times for subsequent rounds.
Fans can also connect to the conference throughout the event on social media. The MIAC welcomes fans, coaches and student-athletes to share photos from the event on Facebook and Twitter, and to use the hashtag #MIACgolf on all championship-related tweets. The MIAC also produced a 2013 MIAC Golf Championships video to promote the event.
Saturday and Sunday’s 18-hole rounds will tee off at 11:28 a.m., with Monday’s final round beginning at 9 a.m. A short awards ceremony to honor the team champions and All-Championship Team (top 10 including ties) will follow. Admission is free and spectators are welcome. All spectators are encouraged to review the MIAC Golf Championships spectator rules prior to attending.