Golf will lean on an experienced roster to power toward an Atlantic 10 Championship.
The Colonials need to fill the shoes of 2019-graduate Logan Lowe, who finished his campaign as one of the most decorated golfers in GW history. Golfers said a large group of returners has provided the team with a firm foundation of playing experience, but the entire squad needs to contribute to achieve success.
Head coach Chuck Scheinost said Lowe was the “best player in program history,” adding that the team will feel his loss this season. But he said the 2019-20 roster is deep, and each player has the experience and skill needed to perform at a high level.
“This year’s team is just as good if not better than last year’s team,” Scheinost said. “It’s just going to take them a little bit to find their identity, and I think this year it won’t be one person leading us maybe as much as the collective playing well together.”
In the team’s yearly fall training trip last week, the Colonials secured a victory over Mount St. Mary’s in their first invitational of the year. Scheinost said the trip allowed players to shake off the rust and ease back into game scenarios.
“We didn’t get quite as much competitive golf in the summer as we normally do, so we tried to do a match against Mount St. Mary’s to get the juices flowing and hopefully get over the first-round nerves,” Scheinost said. “They were definitely there the first nine holes, and then we got our feet underneath us and played a little better.”
The eight-person squad features six returners from last year’s team, including four of the five starters from the team’s third-place A-10 Championship run. Senior Adrian Castagnola recorded the highest finish at the A-10 Championship among returning players, finishing the competition -5 overall, one stroke behind Lowe.
Castagnola and senior Yoo Jin Kim have taken on the role of captains this season. Castagnola said one person cannot fill Lowe’s shoes but rather the whole team needs to step up and play the best golf they can to close the gap left by Lowe.
“He wasn’t just a great guy on the golf course but also just a great leader and a great teammate, so as far as replacing him, that can’t be done,” he said. “It’s up to all of us to motivate each other and push each other to be the best versions of ourselves.”
Castagnola added that the majority of the golfers are familiar with one another’s personalities and playing styles, which ensures that each player is comfortable playing with one another.
“We already all know each other very well,” Castagnola said. “We know the strengths and weaknesses of our own games. Having four out of five starters return gives us the motivation and experience that we’re looking for.”
He said now-sophomores Logan Othmer and Luis Alfonso Preciado entered competition frequently as freshmen, giving them limited time to adjust to collegiate golf. Now, the team will only benefit from their added experience this season, he said.
“We had young guys last year so we relied on two freshmen almost every tournament of the year, and going forward, those two freshmen are now sophomores and have that experience so it kind of turns our weakness into strength,” Castagnola said
Freshmen Jakub Hrinda and Hugo Riboud will also join the mix this season. The pair have represented their home countries of Slovakia and France, respectively, on the national stage and bring years of international tournament experience to GW.
Kim, one of the team’s senior captains, said Hrinda and Riboud are “strong golfers” and have gelled with the returning players to create a strong team dynamic. Hrinda brings strength and power to the team, while Riboud can hit the ball as “straight as an arrow,” Kim said.
“They’re very outgoing as people,” Kim said. “They’re very different, but we like that. It’s new ways our team can work with each other.”
Kim said the team has focused on putting and driving to sharpen “errant” mistakes. He added that the squad worked to create a family-like environment within the team to foster a stronger bond between the players.
“The senior dynamic within our team has always been the same where seniors are always, ‘we’re the gatherers, we get everyone together,’” Kim said. “We make sure everyone is communicating and happy in their role as a team.”
Scheinost said he is hopeful the team will earn a spot in the postseason and compete for the A-10 Championship this year.
“If we play with our ability, we absolutely can contend for the A-10 Championship,” Scheinost said. “I fully expect us to be at the point hopefully by the end of the year and ready to compete for a spot to go on to the postseason.”
The Colonials head to Marshall University Monday and Tuesday for the Joe Feaganes Marshall Invitational in their first tournament of the season.
Emily Maise contributed reporting.