Championship Preview: Golf Teams Look to Finish Strong

Thursday, April 24, 2014 - page 3

This weekend’s Centennial Conference Championships will be the last hurrah for Kristin Lang, but the only senior on the Muhlenberg women’s golf team believes they are more of a beginning than an end.

Kristin Lang Lang hopes the two-day event, which gets underway Saturday in Harrisburg, will be another stepping stone in the Mules’ revival. Just three years ago, Muhlenberg was unable to field a complete team, and even though Lang joined the squad as a sophomore, she is the closest link to those lean seasons. Fast forward to the present, and Lang marvels at how far the program has come.

“We have girls scoring in the top five at tournaments, competition among the team,” Lang said. “Before it was a miracle just to get enough players to go to a tournament. I think we’ve all improved by being able to push each other.”

The Mules competed in seven tournaments this season – their highest total since 2005, up from six a year ago and three the year before. Muhlenberg’s progress has also been evident in its scorecards.

Three Mules have broken 100, led by freshman Emily Unrue. The rookie ranks 14th in the CC with a 95.29 stroke average to go along with four top-10 finishes and a season low of 89. Junior Christina Bryde is 15th in stroke average (96.17), and Lang (left) shot a career-best 91 at the fall Muhlenberg Invitational to go along with a 99 in the spring.

Unlike in previous years, the Mules enter the CC Championships with more than a modicum of experience. In addition to Bryde, juniors Laura Glogovsky and Katie Seeman and sophomore Kerrilynn Lanza competed in the conference tournament last year. With Unrue joining the fold, Lang is confident the Mules can improve on their seventh-place finish in 2013.

“We’ve been very competitive with the other schools in our conference,” Lang said. “We would love to place in the top three, and individually we have some players who can place. I think we can all be below 100, especially with good conditions. Hopefully we can all do it on the same day.”

The Mules will enter the two-round event on a high note, coming off a second-place finish at their home tournament Monday. Glogovsky carded a career-best 101 as Muhlenberg posted a team score of 398, its second-lowest output since the 2008 CC Championships.

For Lang and the Mules, it’s all about finishing strong – for this season and the ones to come.

Chris DiMaio “The growth of the program has really helped us all, and it’s exciting to see where the future is going to go,” Lang said. “We’re all excited to get out there. It should be a great weekend.”

The Muhlenberg men begin their championship quest Friday with the first of three rounds in Wilmington, Del. After consecutive sixth-place finishes, the Mules have their sights set on something more in line with the second-place showing of 2008 or the three straight thirds that followed.

“Obviously we want to win it, but we want to string together three good days of good, competitive golf and give ourselves a chance,” said senior Chris DiMaio.

DiMaio tied for 11th at last year’s tournament, one stroke behind fellow senior captain Christopher Lucarelli. Lucarelli turned in a strong regular season, earning medalist honors at the Falcon Classic in the fall and tying for second there Wednesday. DiMaio (right) tied for first with a career-low 71 at the York Spring Invitational.

Freshman John Froberg has become a key member of the rotation, firing three rounds of 77, including one at the Ursinus Spring Invitational two days ago. Fellow rookie David Barkley signed for five sub-80 rounds, while sophomore Jonathan Graulich carded four.

Muhlenberg posted its four best rounds of the season in the final seven tournaments of the spring. The Mules were second at Rutgers-Camden and third at Ursinus, where three golfers scored in the 70s.

“I think we’re in a good position,” DiMaio said. “It’s a good time to get hot and be playing well.”

The conference championships are a different animal, however, so DiMaio and Lucarelli have made sure to prepare their more inexperienced teammates for the challenges that await.

“I can remember my first conference tourney [freshman year],” DiMaio said. “You play in some three-day tournaments growing up, but nothing is quite like this. It’s three days of grinding it out, emotional golf. To be able to put yourself in a good mental state is key, and taking it hole by hole from there is the most you can do. Hopefully the younger guys can follow our lead.”