Coming off of its first tournament victory in six years, golf returns to action with a young roster seeking to continue the success of last season.
With the program on an upward trajectory following last year’s win, its focus now shifts to putting in consistent performances on the course and developing freshman players after graduating three seniors.
“We definitely have the talent to be just as good, if not better than last year, but we’re going to have to grow and really work on some things for us to be a better team,” head coach Chuck Scheinost said.
Led by senior Logan Lowe, the seven-man squad is confident in the roster’s talent but will be using its fall slate to gain college match experience and continue practicing the fundamentals of the game to prepare for the Atlantic 10 Championship in the spring.
To kick off their season, the Colonials take on a challenging five-tournament fall schedule featuring trips to Colorado, North Carolina and Hawaii.
GW will face off against programs like the University of Colorado, which is coming off an appearance at the NCAA Regional Championship, and West Virginia, a team that won two tournaments last year.
“We want to see how we stack up against the best teams in the country,” Lowe, the reigning A-10 Golfer of the Year, said. “I think we need to grow a little bit and I think our schedule in the fall is perfect for that.”
Lowe claimed two individual tournament victories last season and competed in the U.S. Amateur National Championship in August.
As the team’s leading scorer for the last three seasons, Lowe will leave big shoes to fill for the remaining golfers when he graduates next spring. The team has this season to develop its freshmen in preparation for when Lowe is no longer on the roster.
The squad is without Jack Porcelli, Christian Cichan and Vince Palazzolo – the first recruitment class under Scheinost – who graduated in the spring.
Last season, Porcelli won the Navy Spring Invitational to lead the Colonials to a team victory, and Cichan’s 74.74 score average was second-best on the team behind Lowe. Palazzolo shot a career-low score in the first round of the A-10 Championship in the spring to help the team to its eighth-place finish.
The fall tournaments provide opportunities for the team’s two freshmen, Logan Othmer and Luis Alfonso Preciado, to gain valuable college golf experience. The development of the younger players on the team will be crucial to the squad’s success this season and for years to come, a challenge Scheinost said he is well aware of.
“I don’t know what to expect yet because we’re going to hit some bumps in the road with some younger guys learning college golf,” Scheinost said. “We’re going to play all seven guys we have on the team this year. That’ll really help us gain some experience and I’m excited for that.”
Sophomore Clifford Thompson said leadership is not a problem despite losing Porcelli, Cichian and Palazzolo.
“I feel like everyone sort of has a leading role on the golf course,” Thompson said.
Thompson emerged as one of the program’s top golfers after a strong spring semester last year when he was the team’s top finisher at the Colleton River Collegiate and the Kingsmill Intercollegiate in March. His finish at the Kingsmill Collegiate earned him A-10 Co-Rookie of the Week honors.
Beyond Lowe and Thompson, Scheinost said he is confident in the abilities of junior Adrian Castagnola, who had top-10 finishes for the team last season and has grown as a golfer over the last few months.
The team is also focusing on improving its consistency of play and powering through off days on the course. Scheinost developed a system of daily checks and routines for each of his players to ensure that they are improving every day and ready for the stresses of collegiate golf.
“I’ve been working hard, mainly on getting the scores that I need even when I’m not playing great,” Thompson said. “It’s not the end of the world if you have a terrible start to the match, you can always come back from it.”
Over the summer, Scheinost stayed in contact with his players and their swing coaches to make sure that everyone was staying sharp and ready for the new season – even going so far as meeting personally with swing coaches if he was in the area.
For Lowe, the beginning of the fall season also marks the final year of his college career. Before he says goodbye to the program, he said he wants to leave on a high note by winning the A-10 Championship in the spring.
“I’ve obviously given my hardest to the team for three years and others have done the same for me,” Lowe said.
The Colonials kick off their fall slate at the Joe Feaganes Marshall Invitational Monday and Tuesday at the Guyan Golf and Country Club in Huntington, W.Va.