Mancinelli, GVSU men’s golf place fifth at Las Vegas Desert Classic

GVL / Luke Holmes - Alex Scott warms up on the practice green at The Meadows Golf Course Tuesday, Apr. 5, 2016.

GVL / Luke Holmes – Alex Scott warms up on the practice green at The Meadows Golf Course Tuesday, Apr. 5, 2016.

Robbie Triano

While most Grand Valley State students began a relaxing spring break from school work, the GVSU men’s golf team pressed their luck in their season-opening Las Vegas Desert Classic tournament Sunday, March 5 and Monday, March 6.

The lights in Sin City shined bright and the Lakers sparkled as they finished in fifth place with a final team stroke score of 570. The Lakers shot a team stroke total of 282 on Sunday and 288 Monday.

The Desert Classic was supposed take place over three rounds of play with 36 holes planned for the first day, but 30 mph winds and gusts reaching 50 mph cut the event short as only two total rounds were able to be completed.

“Those winds really impact the entire field which really makes you change your mindset that pars are great and birdies are hard to come by,” said GVSU coach Gary Bissell.

West Florida finished first in the 18-team field after finishing at 548 in the two-day event, while California Baptist (553), Lee (562) and Missouri St. Louis (567) rounded out the top four.

Junior Domenic Mancinelli led the scoring for the Lakers and tied for the third-best individual score in the tournament with a final stroke score of 137 after a 69-stroke first round and 67-stroke second. Mancinelli is a three-year starter for the Lakers and a staple for the team.

“He’s been a huge contributor to this team,” Bissell said. “He’s not the oldest on the team, but he acts like a leader and that’s what we need.”

Although the winds seemed to play a negative factor for everyone’s day one results, Mancinelli found a silver lining from the weekend’s poor weather.

“Those winds make putting a lot more difficult and lets you know that you’re in for a long day of work,” Mancinelli said. “But I like the wind because I can be more creative with my shots and approaches. In practices, my fellow teammates and I like to play when it’s not so nice outside so when we have day like that we can be more prepared.”

Alex Scott finished with a 71-68-139, tied for seventh in the individual standings, while Ted Rider (70-79-149), Alex Nannetti (77-74-151) and Bryce Messner (72-83-155) rounded out the rest of the GVSU squad.

Last season, the men’s team didn’t qualify for the national tournament as they finished eighth in the super regionals. The Lakers have only qualified for the national tournament twice in school history.

Although they graduated three seniors from last year’s team, the Lakers are returning a major core of their lineup of Mancinelli, Scott, Rider, Nannetti and Messner. Coach Bissell compares this lineup to a famous Detroit basketball team for their ability to step up when needed.

“We think ourselves as the world champion 2004 Pistons team,” Bissell said. “I say that because we have a lot of depth on this team, each week someone else will step up, and we don’t have that many superstars that prove themselves to be the clear cut favorite.”

Since their play in the fall, both Bissell and Mancinelli agree that this current team has made large strides of improvement, which was highlighted at the Desert Classic.

“We’re trending in the right direction,” Mancinelli said. “All of us have been working really hard and have begun to create that mindset that we need in terms of routine. We saw some great scores from this tournament and I hope it can only go up from here.”

GVSU will travel to Georgetown, Kentucky for Saginaw Valley State’s Spring Invitational Saturday, March 18 and Sunday, March 19.