Teams open season with MAC title aspirations

Thomas Gallick

Golf season at Kent State officially begins this weekend as the men’s and women’s teams open their schedules with away tournaments.

The men’s team finished third in the Mid-American Conference last year and looks to improve on that result, starting with the 36-hole Purdue/Midwest Shootout in West Lafayette, Ind. on Saturday.

Seniors Tom Ballinger, David Markle and Tommy Wiegand will start the event, along with freshmen Brett Cairns and John Hahn. Markle finished in the quarterfinals of the Canadian Men’s Amateur Open over the summer and will look to build on a top-ten individual finish at the MAC Championship.

Coach Herb Page said the rest of the roster will all have a chance to start tournaments this season too.

“I’ve got four seniors who have contributed in the past, but we’ve got some real depth this year,” he said.

The make-up of seniors and freshmen in the starting lineup is unique, but the two freshmen, especially Hahn, earned their spots in qualifying play Page said.

Hahn shot a course-record tying score at the Flashes’ home course, Windmill Lakes Golf Club. His score tied five former Kent State golfers, including current PGA Tour professional Ben Curtis.

Page said the team scheduled the Purdue/Midwest shootout to get an early chance to play on the Kampen Course, the home of this year’s NCAA championship.

The women’s team will also compete in a tournament this weekend in the 54-hole Mary Fossum Invitational in East Lansing, Mich. The team, led by returning seniors Tara Delaney and Kira Meixner, will begin the defense of its ninth consecutive MAC championship.

The team opened the season in East Lansing last year, where Delaney recorded a score of 1-under par to win the Lady Northern Invitational, an event where the Flashes placed fifth. Assistant coach Jan Dowling said there is room for improvement at this weekend’s event.

“Last year we had an individual winner, but this year we want a team win,” Dowling said. “We lost one senior, but we have a strong returning lineup and every player has the chance to win.”

Seniors Delaney and Meixner, juniors Kirby Dreher and Maddi Swaney and freshman Martina Gavier will start the event for the women’s team. Gavier will become the first South American golfer to play an event for Kent State.

Coach Mike Morrow said he expects solid play from the whole team, especially the two seniors.

“We have an exceptional team this year,” Morrow said. “All of our top-five players are very good and we have two outstanding seniors who are two of the best in the whole country.”

Dowling said the first goal of the women’s team is winning another MAC championship, a goal shared by the men’s team.

Multiple international players will compete for both the men’s and women’s teams this year. The men’s team includes three golfers from Canada, while golfers from Argentina, Canada and Ireland will play for the women’s team.

Contact golf reporter Thomas Gallick

at [email protected].