Yellow Jacket Men’s Golf Team Seeks OAC’s First-Ever Automatic NCAA Tourney Berth
BEREA, OHIO — The Baldwin Wallace University men’s golf team has its sights set on winning the 2007 Ohio Athletic Conference title and receiving the OAC’s first-ever automatic berth to the NCAA Division III National Tournament.
The Yellow Jacket men will return a solid lineup that features seven strong players, including five who averaged less than 80 strokes per round of 18 holes last fall and a pair of returning All-OAC players in junior team captain Matt Lewis (Canal Fulton/ Northwest) and sophomore Bill Donatone (Geneva).
After posting a 29-11 record in the fall,including tournament titles at the five-team Muskingum College Fall Invitational and the nine-team Lake Erie College Fall Tournament, Head Coach Chris Kibler is optimistic regarding his team’s chances this sprng.
“We return a solid core group of players who have the talent and ability to play with any team in the OAC on any given day,” said Kibler, in his third season at the helm. “The real key is putting together two or three good days in a row by our entire lineup. That will win a tournament title.
"With Matt and Bill at the top of our lineup, we have two very good players,” continued Kibler, who also serves as an assistant men’s basketball coach. “Our other veteran, junior Mike Jenior (Rootstown), has shown at times that he has the ability to shoot low scores. In addition, our four newcomers all had a good fall season.”
In addition to winning the Muskingum and Lake Erie tournaments in the fall, BW also had two third, a fourth and a fifth place finish in its other events en route to the 29-11 team record. In addition to Lewis, Donatone and senior, the roster includes junior transfer Jesse Baird (Avon Lake) and freshmen Nick Bryan (Zanesville/ Rosecrans), Mike Falk (Strongsville) and Cory Swaisgood (Fremont/ St. Joesph’s Cental Catholic).
During the fall, Bryan led the squad with a 77.33 stroke average, including an individual low round of 71 at the Mount Union College Fall Tournament. It was a solid start to his Yellow Jacket career. Lewis, a two-time letterman, averaged 77.62 strokes per round in the fall and shot a low round of 72 at Muskingum. A year ago, Lewis earned All-OAC accolades when he tied for 10th individually. Donatone was third this fal with a 79.06 stroke average and a low of 72 at Muskingum. He was eighth individually at the 2006 OAC Championships. Jenior, a two-time letter winner, averaged a career-low 79.52 strokes per round in the fall and has continued to get better each season. That gives Kibler a solis scoring foursome.
“The real key is to get more than five players shooting well in any single round,” said Kibler. “Competition among teammates breeds success as a team in golf.”
Kibler is hoping that theory will push Bryan, Lewis, Donatone and Jenior to shoot even better this spring and for Baird, Falk and Swaisgood to all push for a spot in the top four.
In the fall, the trio each showed signs of having that potential. Baird averaged 79.62 strokes and had a low round of 72. Falk had an 80.86 average and shot a low round of 74. Swaisgood averaged 82.67 with a low round of 77.
“We have been right in the fight for an OAC title in each of my first three years as coach,” said Kibler. “Now we are hoping to take that next step to a higher level. It is all up to the players in our program. If each gets better this spring and they push each other to new heights, I think both winning an OAC title and gaining an NCAA Tournament berth are very realistic goals. We are looking forward to the challenge.”
The spring half of the season will begin on March 4 when the team travels to San Diego, California where they will compete in the 16-team, 54-hole Smee Builders Invitational Tournament hosted by Point Loma (California) Nazarene University on March 5-6 at the Steele Canyon Golf Club in Jamul, California (www.steelecanyon.com). The teams will play 36 holes the first day on the Ranch Meadow Course and 18 more on the second day. The next tournament is on March 23-24 at the Muskingum College Spring Invitational Tournament at Eagle Sticks Golf Club in South Zanesville, Ohio.
FOR MORE BW GOLF INFORMATION, please contact Sports Information Director Kevin Ruple by telephone at 440-826-2327, by FAX machine at 440-826-2329 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Head Coach Chris Kibler can be reached by phone at 440-826-2183, by FAX at 440-826-2192 or via e-mail at email@example.com.