Niles’ young team struggles, finishes 15th

Published 10:32 pm Thursday, August 12, 2004

By By ADAM FISHER / Niles Daily Star
After taking a step forward Tuesday, Niles' boys' golf team took a step back Wednesday at the Kalamazoo Central Inviational. Way back.
The Vikings finished 15th out of 23 teams Wednesday at the Pine View Golf Course in Three Rivers. The performance came one day after the team took second place at the Bronson Invitational.
Niles finished with a score of 340, well behind tournament winner Portage Central's 308. Two Niles players shot 97s or above on the course.
One bright spot for the Vikings was senior Ben Landgraf. Landgraf shot a 77 to finish tied for sixth, five strokes behind the winner, and earn a medal.
While Gunder said he was disappointed in his team's performance, he took a little solace in the fact that Niles beat its only two conference opponents in the field at the Invitational.
St. Joseph finished in 19th place with a 357, and Sturgis was 22nd with a score of 374.
Gunder said the weather and leaving early in the morning had an affect on his team's play.
Wednesday's tournament was Niles' third in as many days. The Vikings play in another invitational today. Gunder refused to blame his players' poor performances on fatigue, though.
Three freshmen play on Niles' varsity team. Gunder said their inexperience has resulted in some high scores this week. But an older player is who Gunder said is particularly struggling.
Junior Chris Haas led the team Monday in its first meet with an 87. Since then, he has shot rounds of 91 on Tuesday and 99 on Wednesday.
Freshman D.J. Wolnick will replace Haas on the team that travels to the Battle Creek Central Invitational today. Since the tournament field is so large, each school brings five players, not the usual six.
Today's invitational will have an unusual format, Gunder said. One player from each team begins from the black, or longest, tees. Another starts from the white tees, and one from the red, or shortest tees.
The remaining two golfers play in a two-man scramble format.
Gunder said the invite's format can lead to pressure on his young golfers.