Fall preview – Golf tees off season

Last season the GW golf team had lofty expectations placed on them after finishing a strong 1998-99 season ranked third in the Atlantic 10. To the chagrin of many, including seventh-year head coach Scott Allen, the Colonials failed to meet those high expectations.

GW underachieved last season, finishing fifth in the Atlantic 10 and 17th in District Two.

While Allen acknowledges his team’s sub-par performance last season, he said he believes this year’s team can rise to the occasion and even surpass what the team of two years ago accomplished.

We had a disappointing season last year, Allen said. This year, though, we are off to a good start so far.

In order to qualify for the NCAA Eastern Regional, the Colonials must either finish in the top four of 52 teams in District Two or win the A-10 championship. There are nine districts around the country that play for standing in the three national regions. The top 10 teams in each of regions meet in the NCAA Championships to determine a national champion.

The 2000-01 golf season is already underway and the team has gotten off to a good start. At the Navy Fall Invitational, GW placed 12th out of 20 teams, and senior Ryan Day finished seventh in the individual competition with rounds of 71 and 73. The tournament had a strong field, and GW finished 27 strokes behind first-place Richmond. Allen said he was pleased the team averaged a score of 302 a day, but said he wants his team to average 300 or lower per round this season.

Day is one of three experienced seniors Allen brings back this season. GW also returns seniors Michael Goldman and Darren Ressler. Ressler shot a team-low 226 at the A-10 Championship last season and Goldman shot GW’s low score of 160 at the GW Invitational. The veteran 2000-01 squad also features five juniors, including last year’s team MVP, Thomas Blankvoort.

Blankvoort was named to the A-10 All-Conference team last season along with junior Bryan Derdenger, who was the team’s MVP in 1998-99. Bryan Derdenger led the Colonials in scoring last season and proves to be a consistent team leader.

Twin brother Tim Derdenger also returns for GW this season. He finished 11th overall at the challenging Kingsmill Invitational last March.

Junior Bobby Barnett and sophomores Reid Rosenthal and Brad Friedlander will compete for playing time this season, while junior Jens Sigurdsson and walk-on freshman J.B. McCuskey complete Allen’s roster.

GW, like in many teams in years past, will face stiff competition in its conference and district. Allen said he thinks two-time defending A-10 champion Rhode Island will once again field a strong team along with Xavier and Temple. In the district, Allen points to perennial powers like Penn State University, James Madison University and the University of Richmond as among the elite teams. While Allen admits GW might not be on par with the top teams in the district, he said he thinks his team is just a notch below them and can compete with any second-tier team in the district.

I am confident that we can compete with teams like Rutgers or Georgetown any day, Allen said.

GW will play in four more tournaments this fall and will next compete in the St. Bonaventure University-Leo Keenan Classic Sept. 24-25. The tournament is held at the Bartlett Country Club in Olean, N.Y. GW is the defending champion of the event, so a strong finish should not be out of the question.

Throughout the past decade, GW’s golf program has gotten stronger and expectations for the team have risen. Coach Allen said he expects a lot from this year’s team and has no problem setting high goals for his squad.

Our goal is always to make NCAA Championships, Allen said.

Whether that goal is attainable or not, Allen is confident in his team’s ability and said he believes that his players have the talent to take GW golf to the next level.

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