Men's Golf Hopes Simulations Pay Off in Reality

Tuesday, March 18, 2014 - page 2

Like it does every winter, the Muhlenberg men’s golf team found itself spending much of the past few months pining for a nice day to get out on the course. The Mules, however, have never felt the desire to turn those daydreams of sunshine into reality – or at least the next-best thing – more acutely than they did this year.

Chris DiMaio “We’ve always had team workouts in the past, but this year we have been doing a lot more in our simulator,” senior Christopher Lucarelli said of the P3ProSwing projector the team installed in the Life Sports Center two years ago. “We’ve had more time getting swings in, and we think it will help us be better prepared when the season starts.

“It’s always hard to make that transition when you haven’t touched a club or seen a golf course in months, so it’s been nice to go in the simulator and knock off some of the rust.”

The Mules finally had a chance to rid themselves of some rust over Spring Break, when the team traveled to Myrtle Beach, S.C. Though Lucarelli said the weather didn’t quite live up to their expectations, the chance to get back in the swing of things – and play some actual matches against North Carolina Wesleyan – was certainly much-needed.

“We had to deal with some wind and things that we’ll have to deal with when the season starts,” said Lucarelli, who carded a 76 on the Mules’ second day of Spring Break play. “It was great to have some real competition, and it will help us be prepared for the spring season.”

Lucarelli and his Mule teammates hope their real-life scores rival those they have put up in the simulator, starting with tomorrow’s Dickinson Invitational. For his part, Lucarelli and fellow senior Chris DiMaio would have a tough time being more consistent in simulation than they have been over the past two years.

Last season, Lucarelli led Muhlenberg with a stroke average of 79.6, and DiMaio was right behind at 79.7. Except for his first four rounds of the 2013 spring, DiMaio was a model of consistency, firing a 77, 78 or 79 every time he took the course.

Lucarelli has upheld that mantle through the fall, averaging 78.8 strokes per round. Six of his eight rounds during the fall season ended with him signing for a 79 or 80, and one of the outliers – a career-best, one-under 71 at the season-opening Messiah Falcon Classic – made Lucarelli the program’s first medalist since 2009.

“I’ve been working really hard on my game the past three years,” said Lucarelli, who came to Muhlenberg as a baseball player before tearing his ACL and deciding to pick up the other sport he played in high school. “After that I wanted to be active with my time here. In high school I had the potential to shoot a low score, but also to shoot a real big one, too. There were a couple of outliers my sophomore year here, but you can see that I have worked really hard on being consistent with my scores over the last two seasons.”

Chris Lucarelli DiMaio was second on the team with an 80.6 average in the fall, which included a fourth-place finish and a season-best 76 at the Moravian Fall Invitational.

Sophomore Jonathan Graulich (81.0) and freshmen John Froberg (81.7) and David Barkley (82.0) were also steady in the first half of the season. Graulich fired a season-best 78 in finishing fifth at the Muhlenberg Invitational, Froberg shot dueling 77s to take fifth at Moravian and the Rutgers-Camden Invitational, and Barkley carded a 77 of his own to place fifth at the F&M Fall Invitational. Froberg led Muhlenberg with an 83 in its first match against N.C. Wesleyan.

“We have a group of hard workers, and that will pay off,” Lucarelli said. “We have a strong freshman group, and we have guys who can consistently play well. If we all just keep our heads in it we can be a competitive team in the conference.”

Freshman Joseph McNaney, sophomore Greg Hewitt and senior Josh Spielman all saw action in at least three matches during the fall. The Mules turned in strong performances at Moravian (4th of 14), Ursinus (3rd of 14) and their home tournament (6th of 17), but Lucarelli is hoping for more when the spring season tees off.

“We are looking to be top five or even top three each time we go out there,” he said. “To get a win in the spring would be amazing.”

After a pair of sixth-place finishes at the last two Centennial Conference Championships, Lucarelli said the Mules have their sights set on making a move up the leaderboard in his final go-round with the team.

“I think we have a great chance to be a lot better this year,” he said. “To finish in the top three in the CC would be really nice.”