Men's Golf | Tufts headed to New England Championship
Published: Friday, October 18, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 18, 2013 08:10
Next weekend, the men’s golf team will compete in the New England Championship tournament in Brewster, Mass., the final event of the fall season. The championship is one of the largest gatherings of teams from NCAA Div. I, II and III schools in one location in the country. Teams from as many as 40 schools will be attending the two-day tournament, which begins Oct. 27 and concludes the following day.
The Tufts team will feature sophomore Jay Wong, juniors John Wawer, Sebastian Vik and Alex Zorniger and either sophomore Brendan Koh or senior David Carson in the fifth spot.
Last fall, Tufts finished tied for 24th out of 35 teams in a tournament cut short by the arrival of Hurricane Sandy, resulting in a disappointing finish to the fall season.
“New England is always a tough test because the temperatures are usually in the 40s with the winds blowing,” Wong said of the championships. “Last year, we only got to play one round and it was right before Sandy hit, so the elements were definitely a factor.
Though no hurricane is in the forecast for next weekend, the weather will likely once again play a role in the tournament dynamics. As a result, the golf team has placed added emphasis on being not just physically but also mentally prepared for the tournament.
“We have been focusing on being mentally tough,” coach Bob Sheldon said. “We have the physical ability, but need to be better mentally to really compete.”
Though this year’s fall season has not been as successful as the Jumbos might have hoped, the team has a chance to prove itself in a high profile tournament and build some momentum before the spring season.
“Our team goal is to place in the top third of a 40-team tournament,” Sheldon said. “Individually, we would like everybody to play well and have at least one round [with a stroke count] in the 70s.”
Sheldon’s goals appear achievable: Wong, Wawer and Zorniger, with a few exceptions, have consistently shot in the 70s throughout the fall, and the team is coming off its highest place finish of the year, a tie for 4th at the Rhode Island College Fall Invitational on Oct. 4.
Sheldon expects Wong and Wawer to lead the team in Brewster next weekend, as they have all season long. Both were recently named to the all-NESCAC second team and have had significant success this fall.
“Thus far, the fall season has been just okay — we had everybody play well, but at different times,” Wong said. “We absolutely have the talent to compete with all the teams we play with, and I know that our experience this year will afford us better results next year.”
The New England Championship will also provide an opportunity for Tufts to assert itself among its NESCAC rivals. Last year, the Jumbos finished ahead of both Wesleyan and Bates in this tournament, and the Jumbos seem poised to best both schools again after finishing ahead of them in the NESCAC Qualifier tournament in September.
Though the Jumbos finished sixth in the NESCAC Qualifier, preventing them from advancing to the NESCAC championship in the spring, they will use this final fall season tournament and the spring tournaments to continue to gain experience and increase their overall mental toughness. With a team led by sophomores and juniors, Tufts seems poised to improve in the coming months and years.