31 Iowa Conference titles
The Central College men’s golf team is hoping to put a little better finish on another successful season this year.
Last year’s squad captured its 30th Iowa Conference title, posting the low score each of the four rounds to win by a 37-stroke margin. The Dutch were represented at the NCAA Division III tournament for the 31st year, but narrowly missed the 15-team cutoff for a berth in the final two rounds of the 72-hole tourney.
Despite significant graduation losses of three starters who combined for four all-league plaques and seven national meet appearances, third-year coach Chad Green is optimistic about 2013.
“We’re a young team but during the fall season we showed that we’re capable of putting up low rounds and competing with the top tier,” Green said.
Justin Livingston, a senior team captain, will likely return to the No. 1 position. Livingston is a veteran of two NCAA tourneys, a three-year starter and a two-time all-league selection. He led the squad with a 75.4 average in the fall after a 75.2 spring mark. Livingston received last year’s Ryerson MVP Award.
“Justin is one of our hardest workers and better players since I’ve been here,” Green said. “It’s time for him to be a great senior leader.”
Sophomore Adam Squires shined at the NCAA meet last year, missing the individual cut to the final rounds of the tourney by just one stroke. He averaged 77.3 last spring before rising to 78.2 in the fall.
“Last year’s national experience will take Adam a long way in the next three years,” Green said. “He’s definitely improved and has a very strong mental game.”
Drew Osier is another returner with national experience, competing at the 2011 meet. Looking to become a mainstay in the starting five, Osier posted an 80.1 mark in the fall after a 78 average last spring.
“We’re looking for Drew to step up in his senior year,” Green said.
Freshman Jared Nepomuceno of Corona, Calif., was an immediate contributor in the fall and averaged 76.7
“Jared’s been a surprise,” Green said. “He’s a consistent top-five player and has one of the lowest scoring averages in the conference. We’re looking for big things out of him.”
Sophomore David Watson had an up-and-down fall but shot a career-best 69 at the Twin Cities Classic. He didn’t play last spring but improved his 2011 fall mark by more than three strokes, rising to a 76.7 average.
“He showed a lot of potential this fall and if we can get him to play more consistent he can be a great player for us,” Green said.
Sophomore Desmond Stoll also missed last year’s spring season but has the tools to crack the lineup. He posted a 77.8 fall average.
“Desmond also needs to work on his consistency but he’s someone we need in the top five,” Green said.
Sophomores Eric Flores and Jon Prescott joined the varsity squad last spring and will look to push their way onto the scene again this year. Flores averaged 76.8 in the fall while Prescott was at 77.
“They both had really good falls and if they keep shooting the scores they are, they’ll earn their way up the lineup,” Green said.
Other strong contenders include junior transfer Mike Maller from Black Hawk Community College (Ill.), freshman Wil Hunemuller of Cedar Falls and sophomore Clay Curwin of Faribault, Minn.
“Mike had his ups and downs but shows a lot of promise,” Green said. “Wil went through some similar struggles but has a good golf attitude. Clay has a lot of talent and I am looking for him to show it this spring.”
Freshman Robby Hurst of Mapleton, Ill., will also press for action.
“He’s an extremely hard worker which will pay off in the long run,” Green said. “We look for good things out of him in the future.”
Green believes the conference is stronger than ever.
“Every team has gotten better from last year,” he said. “It’s the most competitive I’ve seen the league.”
Luther, Dubuque and Coe are the top contenders looking to end Central’s streak of four consecutive titles.
“Luther gained a nice Division I transfer while Dubuque is always tough and has everybody back,” Green said. “Coe is a wild card—they competed with us last year at the championships.”
The first 36 holes of the league tourney will be played April 26-27 at Finkbine Golf Course at Iowa City. The final two rounds are contested May 3-4 on Coe’s home course, the Elmcrest Country Club in Cedar Rapids.
“Elmcrest is your traditional, old-school course that’s short and tight,” Green said. “You can shoot good scores but the course can also come up and bite you if you don’t put the ball in the right spots.”
Although it’s a young lineup, Green believes the challenging fall schedule that featured three tournaments against Division I and II schools, as well as top-ranked Division III schools, prepared the Dutch well.
“We went through some growing pains but we learned a lot about ourselves,” he said. “Playing in those bigger tournaments will really help us out at the end of the year.”
Since the fall campaign the Dutch have been working on two of their biggest weaknesses.
“Consistency and a strong mental game are the keys to success,” Green said. “Our bad days need to be better and we need to get rid of the really bad days by being more mentally tough.”
Central opens the spring slate March 13, with the Illinois-Springfield Invitational at The Club at Pelican Bay at Daytona Beach, Fla. The Dutch will face regional competition at the Webster Gorlok (Mo.), Illinois Wesleyan and Millikin (Ill.) Invitationals, then head to Buena Vista for a final tune-up before the conference meet.
“We’ll get a feel for where we’re at right out of the gate against some good competition,” Green said.
While postseason success is one of many goals for the Dutch, Green makes the focus simple for the players.
“It’s one shot at a time,” he said. “That’s how we’re going to take this season. We don’t want to be thinking ahead when there are things right in front of us to compete for first.”