Men’s golf team drives deep

Courtesy of Kent State Athletic DepartmentJunior men’s golfer Kevin Miller.

Courtesy of Kent State Athletic DepartmentJunior men’s golfer Kevin Miller.

Michael Moses

No John Hahn? No problem, says the Kent State men’s golf team.

Coming off a very impressive spring season in which they made it to the NCAA Championship for the third time in four years and won their third consecutive MAC Championship, the team will try to fill the shoes of the 2011 MAC Golfer of the Year with increased depth.

“John is going to be tough to replace,” said rising junior Kevin Miller.

Miller pointed out that this year’s team can replace Hahn with better overall play. A stellar recruiting class is also expected to join the program.

In his 34th season as head coach, Herb Page and his staff put together quite possibly the best freshman class Kent has seen during his reign as head coach. Incoming freshmen Charlie Phillips (Mount Vernon, Ohio), Nick Scott (Union, Ohio), and Taylor Zoller (Charleston, S.C.) will all be a key part of this year’s success.

“It’s always nice to have one or two freshmen to step in and contribute right away,” Miller said.

Other new faces on this year’s squad will include sophomore Kyle Kmiecik from Ole Miss and sophomore Jack Watson from Kansas State. Kmiecik (Kuh-meek), an Avon, Ohio native, earned American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) Honorable Mention All-America honors in 2008 at St. Ignatius High School. In just six tournaments as a collegiate golfer, Watson finished in the top ten twice.

In addition to the recruiting, the Golden Flashes have had quite a busy and successful offseason on the links. Multiple golfers competed in the amateur circuit this summer, including rising senior Mackenzie Hughes.

Hughes was the brightest Flash on this summer’s circuit. He won the Canadian Men’s Amateur Championship, making him the national champion of his home country. This marked the second major victory for Hughes this summer, as he also won the Kinnear Glencoe Invitational in June.

Hughes wasn’t the only Flash to raise a trophy during the past few months. Juniors to be Nathan Tarter and Miller, as well as rising sophomore Taylor Pendrith each picked up victories in events this summer. Miller became just the sixth individual and the first in 23 years to win the Ohio Amateur Public Links Tournament in back-to-back years.

In addition to their busy summers, three current golfers represented Kent State at the U.S. Amateur Men’s Golf Championship Aug. 22. Pendrith, incoming freshman Nick Scott and Hughes joined former Golden Flash John Hahn at Wisconsin’s Erin Hills Golf Course for the 111th edition of the tournament.

Given the players’ success this summer, the transition into this fall should be rather fluid.

“Everyone is having good summers; we’re playing in the top amateur tournaments around,” Miller explained. “We’ll all be able to look back on the experience we’re gaining and use it to our advantage this season. We shouldn’t have a slow start; I expect the team to play well right away.”

Contact Michael Moses at [email protected].