For the first time since 1992, the Valparaiso University men’s golf team will tee it up this fall. Head coach Mike Higdon guides his youthful Crusaders into five tournaments during the next two months, as the six freshmen and a sophomore experience Division I golf for the first time.
“I’m excited to find out where we are and how we stack up with others at the college level,” Higdon said. “I have been happy with everyone’s work ethic up until now. I know they are just as eager to get started with the season as I am.”
The Crusaders will be led by the lone sophomore, Mike Hesselman, as they embark on the new campaign. Hesselman, a transfer from Viterbo University was a First Team All-Midwest Collegiate Conference selection as a freshman. He posted top-10 efforts in all 11 events last year, including two victories and three runner-up finishes.
Six freshmen will join Hesselman and are anxious for their first taste at collegiate golf. Andrew Beischel finished in the top-20 in the Wisconsin State Championship in 2008 in helping to lead Whitefish Bay High School to a 10th Beischel joins Austin Gaugert, who also finished in the top-20 in Wisconsin this past year while leading Badger high School to a third place finish as a team. place finish overall.
A third player from Wisconsin, Clayton Jones, helped lead Arrowhead High School to three straight state championships. Individually he has qualified for the Wisconsin State Amateur.
Higdon has also brought in three players from Indiana, including a local product in Josh Kalita. Kalita earned a top-20 finish in the Indiana State Championship as a senior, helping lead Chesterton High School to a sixth place finish as a team.
Andy Webb, from Bedford, Ind., was the Hoosier Hills Conference champion individually in 2009 for NorthLawrence High School. He finished in the top-10 in seven of eight invitationals during his senior season. Adam Gray also hails from the Hoosier state and was a four-time All-Olympic Conference selection for Jay County High School.
Higdon has set up a challenging fall slate for the Crusaders, beginning September 8-9 at the Saint Joseph’s College Championships at Plymouth Country Club in Plymouth, Ind. He then plans on taking the team to tournaments hosted by Bowling Green and Ball State each of the next two weeks. After a week off, Valpo will play in the Butler Fall Invitational on October 5-6 before wrapping up the fall campaign at the Dayton Fall Invitational October 19-20.
With the program restarting from scratch, opportunities abound for the Crusaders. The six freshmen will have a chance to make an impact along with a transfer who had a successful start to his collegiate career. When the sees tees off, exciting times will be ahead for Valparaiso University.