The Valparaiso University men’s golf team closed out the 2018-19 season with Tuesday’s third and final round of the Missouri Valley Conference Championship at The Club at Porto Cima in Sunrise Beach, Mo. Valpo’s top three finishers were underclassmen, led by freshman Garrett Willis (Fort Wayne, Ind. / Homestead), who finished tied for 10th overall. Two freshmen finished with single-season scoring averages that rank in the Top 10 in program history, setting up a bright future for Valpo golf.
How It Happened
- Willis closed out the tournament with a 73 in Tuesday’s round, allowing him to finish at 220 for the 54 holes.
- Jack Juskow (Greenville, S.C. / Hamilton Southeastern) was Valpo’s low scorer in the final round, turning in a 71. The sophomore’s 54-hole score of 227 allowed him to crack the Top 20 at t-17.
- Freshman Charlie Toman (Chardon, Ohio / Notre Dame Cathedral Latin) was the third Valpo underclassman in the Top 20, finishing 20th at 228. He carded a 77 in Tuesday’s round.
- Senior Mitchell Wittmann (Kaukauna, Wis. / Kaukauna) rounded out his collegiate career with a 78 on Tuesday to finish the tournament tied for 22nd at 230.
- Sophomore Drew Alexander (McCordsville, Ind. / Hamilton Southeastern) turned in a 76 to finish the tournament with a 223, which put him at t-29.
- As a team, Valpo had its best score of the tournament in Round 3 with a 297. That helped the team finish in fifth at 902, just eight strokes behind Bradley for fourth. Valpo outdid sixth-place UNI by 16 strokes.
- The team champion was Southern Illinois, which punched an NCAA Regional ticket with a 54-hole score of 859. Illinois State’s David Rauer was the individual medalist, edging Missouri State’s Kory Franks on a one-hole playoff after both finished at 212 over the regulation 54 holes.
Inside the Round
- By ranking tied for 10th overall, Willis had the highest conference championship finish by a Valpo freshman since the program resumed in 2009.
- Willis led the team in birdies with 11 for the tournament.
- The team score of 902 was Valpo’s best in a conference championship since winning the Horizon League Championship in 2013 with an 884.
- Toman finished the season with a 73.94 scoring average to lead the team. That ranks fourth in program history for single-season scoring average behind only Peter Webb (2016-17 and 2015-16) and Nick Seitz (2014-2015).
- Willis also cracked the Top 10 in program history for single-season scoring average. The freshman’s mark of 74.52 is tied for eighth all-time, joining Kyle Henning (2013-2014).
- Juskow enters his junior year with a career scoring average of 76.03, which ranks fifth in program history. Players must have completed at least two seasons and at least 20 rounds to qualify for the career list.
- Wittmann finished his four-year Valpo career with a scoring average of 77.00, which ranks 10th in program history. He averaged a 76.00 over 33 rounds this season and completed 109 rounds of golf over his collegiate tenure.
- This year’s team finished with a season scoring average of 298.3, which ranks second in program history behind only the 2014-2015 squad (296.2).
Thoughts from Head Coach Dave Gring
“I was very pleased with our team’s performance at the championship. We certainly aspired to finish higher in the final standings, but the guys played with a lot of confidence and determination. I felt that their preparation was excellent for playing a very challenging golf course that we had never seen before.”
“We had the youngest team in the field, starting two freshmen, two sophomores and our senior captain. These five guys have led us well this year and our scores improved with each round in the tournament. When they had a tough stretch of holes, they always seemed to bounce back and finish well. Our birdie production improved with each round and they became more comfortable and familiar with the course as the tournament progressed.”
“The guys seemed to have a lot of fun at the tournament and finishing the season. They never seemed nervous or uptight about the golf course and I thought they showed great patience throughout the entire 54 holes. Their course management was exemplary, especially when you realize the difficulty of the course and keeping the ball in play.”
“Garrett’s ball striking was tremendous and he managed the course extremely well. He really bounced back from a poor start to the tournament with 2.5 rounds of really good golf and a lot of birdies. Jack had yet another very solid round for us today, driving the ball well off the tee and making a lot of putts.”
“Mitch finished his college golf career today with a lot of success and class. He has been a model student-athlete for us for all four years. He has helped move our program forward as we have transitioned from the Horizon League to the Missouri Valley Conference. He has represented us in competition more than any other player in our program’s history and his leadership has been special.”