Last year’s champions now second-to-last at first tournament of the season

Brady Hamilton, Reporter

Last season, the men’s golf squad saw success.

The Flashes clinched the Mid-American Conference and had three stars win top-honor trophies. Over the summer, one golfer even won the Ohio Open.

This weekend, at its season-opening tournament, Kent State did not perform.

“It didn’t go as well as we liked,” three-year head coach Jon Mills said. “We got off to a slow start and not the finish how we wanted or how we hoped for. It’s something we look at and take the positives from and build from.”

The Kent State men’s golf team finished 14 out of 15 teams in the Fighting Irish Classic Sept. 4 and 5, ending 23 strokes over par at 863.

The Flashes did have tough competition, facing schools from power-five conferences across the country including Florida, LSU, Michigan State and Iowa. Florida won the tournament with a score of 819, 21-below par.

From KSU, senior Cade Breitenstine had the best finish of the tournament, tying for 45th place with five-over 215. Sophomore Bryce Reed came in second for the Flashes, tying for 48th place with six-over 216.

The two led their team in Monday’s rounds with 71 and 72 strokes, respectively.

Freshman Ben MacLean had his team’s best round with 68 strokes Sunday during the second round in South Bend. He tied for 65th place overall at 11-over 221.

This year, the Flashes are only missing one starter from last season, Josh Gilkison. Gilkison won the individual MAC champion title after his team’s conference victory last year. He now plays with the pros.

Along with Breitenstine, sophomore Jordan Gilkison, Josh’s brother, and senior Chris Vandette are the remaining team leaders.

Last season, this Gilkison won MAC freshman of the year and Vandette won the golfer of the year honors. In June, the now-second year became the first amateur in over 40 years to win the Ohio Open.

Vandette won three of his team’s twelve tournaments last season and finished fourth in the MAC championships.

“We lost one starter,” Mills said, “but I’m pretty excited for how these guys can play this year and compete.”

Moving forward from his team’s second-to-last place finish with a veteran team, Mills said “it’s more or less identifying where we had issues and building on that.”

Kent State golfs next at the Gopher Invitational Sunday and Monday in Minnesota.

Mills said to not count his men out after their first meet.

“We’re a very good team,” Mills said. “We can compete at a national level, and we obviously didn’t show that the very first week. There’s a lot of tournaments left, and I know these guys will bounce back.”

Brady Hamilton is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected].