Young golf team set to fill graduates' shoes
The Eastern Michigan University men’s golf team will look to build on its most successful season in history, despite losing four senior All-Mid-American-Conference players from last year.
Last year the Eagles finished the season ranked 58th in the nation.
They excelled last season largely because of the leadership and experience of four senior All-MAC athletes. Two of those seniors, Cam Burke and Marty Jeppesen, were also All-Midwest Region selections.
When such a large amount of leadership and experience is lost in one season, it’s hard to continue winning, and a rebuilding year is usually in order.
Last year’s overall record was 105-56. The Eagles have been averaging 100 wins per season for the last five years.
Coach Bruce Cunningham, who is in his 15th year, said this season the Eagles have recruited some promising talent.
“While we are inexperienced this year, we have brought in some elite talent that will complement our returning core players,” Cunningham said.
Newcomers to the team this year include Derek East, a junior transfer from the University of New Orleans; Casey Olsen, a sophomore transfer from Oakland University; Jared Dalga, a freshman from Grand Rapids; and Brian Churchill-Smith, a freshman from Toronto, Ontario.
The Eagles will look to seniors Nick Carbary, Nic Banfield and Adam Winwood for leadership.
“Our goals remain the same, which is to win the Mid-American-Conference, build on our national ranking and receive a post-season NCAA bid,” Cunningham said.
Carbary, a captain, said he is really excited for this season because the Eagles have a lot of new talent to work with.
“All the new guys are good,” he said. “There is a lot of competition out there. We are still trying to figure out the lineup.”
This season brings a real significant role change for Carbary, who went from being the youngest player on the team last year, to the oldest player and the new team captain this year.
“I take what I learned from the leaders like Cam Burke and Chris Ross,” he said. “I want to try and be a leader like the guys before me.”
Despite lacking experience, he still has very high expectations for himself and the team.
“Our focus is on the team winning the MAC,” Carbary said. “Personally, I would like to be more consistent, and I want to be one of the best players in the MAC.”
The Eagles start their season Sept. 19-21 at the Golf Week Conference Challenge Tournament in Burlington, Iowa. Top-tier teams include North Carolina State, Baylor, Iowa and Coastal Carolina will be there.