GVSU men’s golf places 13th at NCAA Super Regionals

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

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

Brendan McMahon

The Grand Valley State men’s golf team concluded its season from May 2-4 at the 2016 NCAA Super Regionals, falling just short of qualifying for nationals. The Lakers competed throughout the three-day tournament at the Meadows Golf Course in Allendale, but their score of 922 (+42) was not enough.

The top five universities from each super region advanced to the national tournament. The Midwest Region was hosted by Grand Valley State, but was also home to nine nationally ranked universities the Lakers had to compete against.

The Lakers dropped nine spots in the leaderboard during the final back nine to finish in 13th place. GVSU ended nine strokes away from qualifying for nationals.

The tournament was much closer than the final leaderboard showed. The Lakers found themselves in fourth place with a few strokes of breathing room entering the last four holes on the final round. GVSU was eyeing a trip to Colorado before the tournament slipped through their hands.

“A little bit of nerves, a little bit of inexperience, and a little bit of bad weather can make the leaderboards go pretty insane sometimes. We just got the bad end of it this time,” said sophomore Domenic Mancinelli.

Head coach Gary Bissell believes the pressure of competing in close competition is an essential part of the game. Pressure is an area of the game that every golfer must learn at some point in their career. Bissell is certain his team will learn that too, in time.

“We may have put too much pressure on ourselves during the last few holes,” said junior Alex Nannetti. “All we really needed to do was keep doing what we did all round and we would have been fine.”

The Lakers set themselves up for success in the first couple days, as they were in fourth place after day one, having shot a +11. They finished day two in seventh place after shooting a +17, a position they felt comfortable competing from entering the final round.

Nannetti stepped up once again for the Lakers and led the team in scoring with a 225 (+12), including an even first round. Nannetti, who had a breakout junior campaign, showcased a strong performance putting all week and managed to hold rounds together.

Senior Chris Beltzer, who graduated just before the tournament, finished his career with the Lakers by scoring second for his team with a 229 (+16). Mancinelli and freshman Alex Scott finished up the scoring for the Lakers.

Bissell believes the Lakers’ youth and inexperience led to a common theme throughout the tournament: the inability to finish rounds. Inexperience aside, the Lakers golfed in poor weather conditions.

“With the weather the way it was, you’re going to hit some bad shots here and there,” Nannetti said. “Collectively as a group, we didn’t do a good job of recovering from those shots or tough breaks and it happened at a critical part of the round.”

Nearly every individual’s score was higher in the final round, a direct result of the weather. In just a day, the weather went from a calm, sunny and 65 degrees to a miserable, rainy and windy day with the windchill well into the 30s.

Bissell went as far as to say it may have been the worst conditions he has seen on a course.

“It was as bad as it gets,” Bissell said. “But it’s not an excuse because everyone had to play in it.”

This close tournament loss will loom in the minds of the Lakers, but will keep them hungry for a potential big year in 2017. All in all, Bissell found that this year was a success in the development of many players.

GVSU  just missed out on a chance at nationals this season, but the future is bright for the young Laker team. The Lakers have four All-Conference players returning and are already looking forward to next year’s challenge.