The formula for continual success constructed by Director of Golf Kyle Stefan is beginning to pay dividends.
In what has seemed to be an up and down first half of the men’s and women’s seasons, the Ramblers have shown that they have the manpower and skill to compete for the rest of this season, as well as in seasons to come.
The two teams have a combined seven top-three individual finishes in their first six tournaments, all of which were obtained by underclassmen.
On the men’s side, sophomore Ben Holm finished second at the D.A. Weibring Invitational earlier this season while freshman Garret Buckley fired the course record at the Whistling Straits Invitational to record his first win in his collegiate debut.
Junior P.J. Riner shared his thoughts on the freshman from Novi, Michigan.
“He has been a giant contribution to this team from day one,” Riner said. “No matter what sport, it is very impressive to see a freshman contribute.”
Equally as impressive are the women’s underclassmen, who have an incredible five top-three finishes.
Sophomore Logan Willis already has a first and third place finish this season, while freshman Jessie Stead carded an early win of her own. The highlight of the season, however, belongs to young Summer Moser.
The freshman from Lutz, Florida, turned heads at Loyola’s home invitational, impressing even her upperclassmen teammates.
“She has consistently played well throughout her first season and even individually won our home tournament with a score of 78-78-78,” said senior Alex Meyers. “I am very excited to see her potential throughout the year.”
The individual performances thus far indicate a positive season; however, playing so many underclassmen is proving to be a double-edged sword.
The Ramblers seem to put up solid opening team rounds, but cannot transfer that into the late rounds, resulting in middle-of-the-pack finishes and bouts of inconsistency.
This is not the primary issue by any means for Stefan, though. His main concern is concentrating on his team’s own game rather than the results he can’t control.
“We just need to play smart golf, control our emotions and let the results take care of themselves,” Stefan said. “We have confidence in the abilities of our players that we have recruited and developed.”
Showing his confidence, Stefan has started underclassmen in 70 percent of their tournaments, the majority of whom are freshmen.
However, the director of golf also understands the importance of his upperclassmen golfers, particularly Riner of the men’s team and Meyers of the women’s team, to provide a crucial veteran perspective to the team.
“Meyers has shown her potential and we need a big senior season from her,” Stefan replied when asked which senior has exceeded his expectations. “If that [seems like we’re] placing a lot on her shoulders, that’s because we are.”
Meyers, a Columbus, Ohio native and the only returning senior on the women’s golf team, played her junior season with four very experienced seniors last year. By having such a diverse senior class to learn under, Meyers embraces the challenge of being the very role model she once had.
“We have a very young team, so my fellow co-captain Olivia Lindsley and I try to help the rest of the team by giving advice and assistance wherever it’s needed,” Meyers said. “I [have] some big shoes to fill so I try to model my actions like the seniors that led before me.”
A well-balanced combination of experienced leaders and a deep field of talented youth is already proving to be a good investment for Stefan. With individual accolades already achieved, the only hurdle Stefan’s teams need to overcome is time.
The rest of the season for the Ramblers includes a trip to Kettering, Ohio, as both teams are set to compete at The University of Dayton’s Flyer Invitational on Oct. 20-21. Shortly afterwards, the men host their home event, the Rambler Roundup, on Oct. 28-29, while the women set out to Indiana for the Braun Intercollegiate on Oct. 27-28.