Golf | Golf team gains new talent
Published: Thursday, September 6, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 6, 2012 07:09
Continually losing key players and veteran leaders can lead to turmoil and prolonged down stretches for even the strongest of teams. The Tufts golf team heads into this season once again missing key players from last season and expecting to rely heavily on a new freshman class.
After graduation in 2011, the Jumbos lost their senior tri-captains and expected the 2011-12 year, understandably, to be a season to regroup and get their legs back under them.
“My first year we were basically completely restarting,” explained sophomore captain Alex Zorniger. “We were very young.”
But with a year under his belt, Zorniger wasn’t quite expecting to be in such a similar position going into his second campaign. For a number of reasons, the Jumbos will be without two of their top five players from last season, including their top golfer in Sebastian Vik.
“It’s always tough when you lose guys and you lose strong players,” said senior Mike McCarthy.
But McCarthy and the rest of the squad are making sure not to let these losses get in their way going into the season. Instead, they are taking the turnover and turning it into an opportunity to rebuild and reshape the way the program is run and what is expected of young players coming into the system.
“Because our home course is 40 minutes away from Tufts, kids can’t practice as much as they would like to,” said Zorniger. “So I think we’re just trying to overhaul how often we’re going to get to practice. There will be a more consistent practice schedule which will lead to better practices.”
Coach Bob Sheldon echoed that message, saying that the team has “a chance to be really good this year, so we’re really going to bear down and get some more commitment.”
This will give a new, strong crop of freshmen the chance to prove themselves on a more consistent basis, along with a more rigorous schedule to really become a part of the golf program. Although tryouts have not been held yet, the team expects a large contribution from those that do make the final cut, as Sheldon noted that the incoming class has a great deal of talent.
“We’re going to be really young,” said Sheldon. “But I’m not really worried because we’ve got some quality golfers coming in ready to play.”
A combination of that youth and the experience of returning players, including Zorniger, McCarthy and sophomore John Wawer, sets the team up for success now and in future seasons.
“We’re really looking forward to getting back on the horse,” said McCarthy.
And they certainly won’t have to wait long, as the action kicks off on the links today with a one-day tryout to set the preliminary roster for this weekend’s Bowdoin Invitational.
“Last year [Bowdoin] actually turned out to be one of the bigger opportunities to get a good finish,” said Zorniger. “If the scores hold to the way it did last year, I think we could definitely have a top-three finish.”
After the trip to Maine, the Jumbos will hold a three-day tryout to set their final roster leading into the Duke Nelson Invitational at Middlebury, which will be held on Sept. 15.
The season then kicks into high gear, but the veterans on the squad believe that they are ready to improve upon last fall and continue last spring’s run, during which the team had a great deal more success.
The Jumbos have failed to qualify for the second round of the NESCAC conference tournament in the past three years, and the team has pointed to that as a tangible goal around which they can shape their season.
“If we play really well we definitely have a shot,” said McCarthy, who will look to seize his final opportunity to play into the second round, held in the spring.
Last year, the Jumbos tied for seventh in that tournament, and to prove that they truly have grown up, they will look to find their way into the top four to make it to the qualifying round.