Setting the Scene:
The Wittenberg University men's golf team turned in one of its
best seasons in recent memory in 2003-04. Based on tournament
finishes, the Tigers defeated nearly 75 percent of the teams they
competed against, and they finished fourth in the brutal North
Coast Athletic Conference. The three teams that finished ahead of
Wittenberg in the NCAC Championship meet all finished among the top
20 in the nation.
On the women's side, it was a landmark year for the program, despite the fact that they were overmatched at times. It was the first year as a full-fledged varsity program, and the Tigers were extremely competitive with roster primarily filled by underclassmen. The 2003-04 school year will undoubtedly serve as a building block for the future.
Postseason Honors: Junior Andy Bonar (Lancaster, Ohio/Lancaster) made first-team All-NCAC for a second straight year after placing third in the championship tournament. Freshman Scott Aker (Springfield, Ohio/Shawnee) placed 12th and sophomore Kristopher Schmelzer (Lancaster, Ohio/Lancaster) finished 14th as both earned their first conference honors in the honorable mention category.
Women's golf is not sponsored as a championship sport in the NCAC. Wittenberg was the first school to go varsity in the sport, although similar announcements have been made by Allegheny, Oberlin and Hiram in recent months.
The men's team had just one senior on the roster, while the
women's team had three. In each case, the senior player was a key
contributor to the team's efforts.
For the women, Erin Mowrey (Toledo, Ohio/St. Ursula) founded the club team in 2001, helped get the program varsity status in 2003 and then led the team in every single competition during the 2003-04 season. In 14 rounds, Mowrey had a solid scoring average of 93.5, including three rounds in the 80s.
The other two seniors on the women's team in 2003-04 were Liz VanHoose (Springfield, Ohio/Shawnee) and Leah Krotine (Strongsville, Ohio/Padua Franciscan). VanHoose was one of the four scorers in the majority of events during the season, and she finished with the fifth-best scoring average on the team (109.4). She improved throughout the season until she posted her best score of 106 at the Baldwin-Wallace Spring Invitational, her final collegiate event. Krotine played in five events and carded a 115.6 scoring average.
For the men, Adam Knowlton (Springfield, Ohio/Shawnee) was one of the top five players on the team for a fourth straight year. He finished with a scoring average of 81.8, down slightly from his career-best 80.9 in 2002-03.
A Bright Future:
The Tiger men have a great deal to look forward to in 2004-05
and beyond. Just one senior was among the top five players, and
three of the top four scoring averages were turned in by players
with either freshman or sophomore standing.
Leading the charge in 2004-05 will undoubtedly be Bonar, who has a chance to go down as one of the most accomplished golfers in school history. He has three All-NCAC honors to his credit, including back-to-back first-team honors the last two years. He led the team in scoring average with 75.8, including a third-place score of 151, in 2003-04.
Aker, who skipped the fall season to concentrate on his schoolwork in 2003-04, was near the top of the leader board every week as well. The Springfield City Amateur champion in 2003, Aker finished with a tremendous scoring average of 76.4, second-best on the team. The highlight of his season came in the second-to-last week, when he finished in a first-place tie at the Ohio Wesleyan Strimer Invitational. He tied OWU's Chad Poling, who went on to win the NCAC and NCAA Division III individual titles.
The other two players in the men's starting five were both sophomores, Schmelzer and Clinton Anderson (Mechanicsburg, Ohio/Mechanicsburg). Schmelzer had his best scores in the first and last tournaments of the spring - a 156 at the Muskingum Invitational and a 160 at the NCAC Championships. He finished with a career-best scoring average of 80.5. Anderson earned his second varsity letter while improving his scoring average from 80.8 to 79.5. He was extremely consistent, posting scores between 155 and 161 in five competitions.
For the women's team, three of the five top scorers were underclassmen. Sophomore Ann Delaney (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Buffalo Grove) was second on the team with a scoring average of 101.6, breaking the 100-stroke mark in five rounds. Freshman Erica Bodnar (Columbus, Ohio/Upper Arlington) was third on the team with a 103.6 scoring average and three rounds under 100. Sophomore Callie Riley (Maitland, Fla./Winter Park) was fourth on the team with a 106.9 scoring average.
Garnett Purnell (Cheyney '73) serves as
Wittenberg's director of athletics and recreation and, since
January 2004, he has also had the reins of the men's golf team.
Purnell has an extensive background in intercollegiate athletics after four years at Central State University as an assistant football and basketball coach, six years as assistant athletic director for student affairs at the University of Cincinnati, five years as a compliance representative with the NCAA and six years in athletic administration at Morgan State University.
Since his arrival at Wittenberg, the Tigers advanced from fifth place in the NCAC all-sports standings to third in 1999-2000 and 2000-01 and second in 2001-02 and 2002-03. In 2003, Wittenberg finished 20th in the Directors' Cup standings, its best finish in the eight years of the competition.
Pat Clouse (Wittenberg '64) is the first head
coach of women's golf since it re-emerged as a varsity sport at
Wittenberg in 2003. Clouse helped bring women's golf back to
Wittenberg's campus as a club sport in 2001, serving as the faculty
adviser until it was granted varsity sport status in 2003.
A member of Wittenberg's faculty since 1968, Clouse, an associate professor and former chair of the Health, Fitness and Sport Department, is a Certified Health Education Specialist. Clouse started the Tiger women's swimming and diving team in 1970 and served as head coach for 23 years, and she also coached the women's lacrosse team for 14 years, starting in its first official season in 1972. As a student at Wittenberg, Clouse was a member of the field hockey, volleyball, basketball and softball teams during her undergraduate years.