Although 90 degrees and humid its not necessarily the weather the Bethany golf team wanted to start out with, the scores and results they have earned in the heat are ones they can’t complain about.
After both the men’s and women’s golf accomplished things never done in the Bethany golf program (the girls fielding a full team for every invite and the men setting a new school record with a team score of 295), anticipation was high for the start of the season – especially the men. With setting a school record and great all-around golfing, the men know they are capable of great things this year – things like the national tournament.
“While we had the best scoring average of all UMAC (Upper Midwest Athletic Conference) teams, four of the 10 best average scores in the conference, as well as the conference medalist; we fell six strokes short of going to the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) National Tournament in Florida. Going to the NCAA National Tournament is everyone’s goal. They want to go this year,” said Vikings men’s golf coach Daniel Mundahl.
From the looks of the scores from the men’s first three meets, they were not joking about wanting to go to the national tournament. At the Crown Invitational, Bethany swept the competition with an impressive score of 310. This meet also earned returning golfer, junior Jon Pederson, a UMAC Player of the Week honor, who medaled in this meet after finishing with a three-over-par 75.
“It’s nice to start off the year by getting another win. After I made the two birdies on 15 and 16, I knew I had the lead and just sort of coasted in from there,” said Pederson.
Although they would finish in fourth place at the Cardinal Open, they came back to win by one shot over Crown college at the UMAC Preview/Viking Invitational.
While the men’s team seems to have found their groove, the women’s team is getting used to a new system with new coach, Ryan Kragh, who is pulling double coaching duty as he is also the Bethany’s men’s baseball coach.
“When the job came open, I thought I would like the challenge of golf and the differences it brings to the table. It is a much different atmosphere than baseball [has] with so many guys, but I also love the small numbers that our golf team has because it is easier to work with each person. My goal is to double the roster. It’s just going to take some time to get going,” said Kragh.
With only four girls on the team (three returning) and a new coach, one might think the first couple meets were rough, but like the men’s team, they have been anything but. In their first dual meet of the season against St. Mary’s University, Bethany came out on top by 11 strokes and Chelsea Green, a sophomore, beat her season best of last year (94) by ten strokes. In their next meet, Bethany would finish 2, as Northwestern would top them by 10 strokes.
“We’re all very proud of the placings we’ve gotten in our first two meets, but each of us has room for improvement. By the end of the season, we should have the kinks worked out and be taking the win at every meet,” said sophomore Caitlin Miller.
So even though the heat has made almost all of the meets unbearable, the men’s and women’s golf team is ready to put in their hard work and have fun at the same time.
Kragh said, “I think the biggest thing we are trying to do is have fun and play smart. If we can do those two things, the rest will fall in place. We can always improve in certain areas, but the biggest thing we are trying to do is eliminate the big hole and just have fun.”