FRANK CUSHMAN | SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
The last sport to get their season going this spring is the men’s golf team. The warmth is a welcome sign for Knights as they have been itching to mount a defense of their 2015 conference championship.
Last season, the Knights won their second title in three years and had the opportunity to prove themselves with some of the best in the country by attending the National Championship. With four of the five golfers who traveled to Greensboro, N.C. returning this season, the team looks poised for another successful campaign.
Highlighting the strength of the program, coach Tripp Maher said, “I think we are at the point where our goal each year is [to] win a conference championship.”
What makes the team so good? Their coach points to the bond they share.
“I’m proud of how close-knit they are. They’re competitive and push each other, but also help each other.”
Another aspect of any winning team is work ethic, and Maher made sure to mention how hard his players work, giving an example of dedication and determination that has built the program to what it is today: “We returned from our tournament at Loras and a player was not happy with how he played and went to the range when we returned to campus.”
Coach Maher says the key to being the first repeat champion since Carroll in 2011-12, is to build up momentum and confidence throughout the season.
“We need to make sure we’re playing our best golf when the championship starts,” said Maher.
Even though St. Norbert has established itself as a power in the Midwest Conference, this season will be no cake walk. Last year’s individual conference champion, Monmouth’s Drake Decker and second place finisher, Carroll’s Henry Mulvey are both returning for their senior seasons. Carroll is also bringing back a very experienced squad with nine seniors golfing for the Pioneers. “Our conference is very competitive…We can’t control what other teams do, we just need to focus on our play,” said Maher.
Maher was complimentary of seniors Nick Mueller, Alex Okray and Ben Socha, singling them out as leaders of the squad, and all three are definitely players to watch this season. Other golfers of note are Ben Bobinski ’17 and Isaiah Harmison ’18. Both represented SNC at the National Championship last year. Coach Maher is excited for the season to begin to see who rises to the challenge: “It seems like each of the last three years, someone has stepped up and surprised me.”
The Knights had two invites this weekend. The first was hosted by Wisconsin Lutheran College in Waukesha. The WLC Spring Invite at Morningstar Golf Club saw the Green Knights finish seventh out of 15 teams. The Knights’ top finisher was Joe Scherer ’17, who finished tied for twelfth place with a score of 77 (+5).
The other event this weekend was the Lake Forest College Invite at Aldeen Golf Club in Rockford, Ill. The results of the invitational were not in by press time.
The weekend was a good opportunity to build the momentum of which Maher spoke. Another strong St. Norbert Green Knights team is on a mission this spring, and they’re looking toward another conference championship and beyond.
The men host their annual invitational April 23-24 at Royal St. Patrick’s Golf Club in Wrightstown.