Kent State aiming to defend MAC crown

Rachel Jones

Experienced trio leads Flashes in tournament

The Kent State men’s golf team begins the Mid-American Conference Championships today, in pursuit of defending last year’s championship title.

Regardless of last year’s performance, Kent State assistant coach Rob Wakeling said this is always a significant tournament.

“I think it’s always important to compete and try to win the MAC Championships,” Wakeling said. “We’ve won seven of them, and besides the NCAA Regionals, it’s probably the most important tournament we have all year.”

In the other tournaments in the regular season, the Flashes finished with mixed results. Most recently, they finished 10th out of 12 at the Aggie Invitational April 17-18.

Wakeling said he is more proud of the individual successes than the team performances.

“We had some excellent individual performances (in the regular season),” he said. “We had two players (Brett Cairns and Mackenzie Hughes) get their first victories, which is always great.”

Confident in this tournament’s lineup, Wakeling said he feels this trend can continue.

“I think our top three players are ranked highly in the Mid-American Conference and the country,” Wakeling added.

“Our guys at the top of the lineup are all great players. Quite frankly, I think any of our guys could win the individual title this weekend.”

Junior John Hahn, two-time MAC Golfer of the Year and last year’s MAC Championships individual medalist will be looking to end on top despite a challenging season thus far. After a rib injury sidelined Hahn at the beginning of the spring, Hahn has only finished in the top 20 twice in his last five tournaments.

Ranked 93rd in the country, junior Brett Cairns will be the highest-rated golfer at the tournament. At the Aggie Invitational, Cairns carded this year’s lowest round of collegiate golf in the nation, a 62, which was also a Kent State school record.

Joining Cairns and Hahn is sophomore Mackenzie Hughes. He will return to the MAC Championships this year after placing third in last year’s tournament.

Making their MAC debuts are freshmen Isaac Charette and Kevin Miller. Kent State coach Herb Page said Miller has been one of the most consistent golfers for the Flashes.

The tournament will be held at Longaberger Golf Club in Nashport, Ohio, and the Flashes will face eight other teams in the MAC.

Eastern Michigan beat Kent State by 17 strokes at the Robert Kepler Invitational April 10-11, making the Eagles the Flashes’ toughest competition this weekend.

“They’re a great team,” Wakeling said. “We’ve had battles with them here in the past couple of years, so I would expect them to play very well this week.”

Wakeling said he hopes the golfers can do their best to accomplish their goals this weekend.

“Our goal is the same every tournament: We want to have a chance to win going into the final round,” Wakeling said. “That’s all you can hope for.”

A win this weekend will get the Flashes a bid to compete in the NCAA Regionals tournament May 20-22. Wakeling said he is confident the team can make that happen.

“We feel pretty good,” Wakeling said. “We have five guys that are ready to play, so we’re looking forward to getting everybody to play well this week.”

Contact sports reporter Rachel Jones at [email protected].