Men’s golf is poised for a first-class run at the A-10 Championship this season after setting a team score record in its first tournament of the year earlier this month and clinching its highest ranking in a tournament since the 2018-19 season.
GW placed third in the Virginia Commonwealth University Shootout, its first tournament of the fall slate, hitting a team score of 829 that smashed their previous 54-hole record by 31 shots relative to par. The record-breaking performance didn’t stop there, as senior Jakob Hrinda turned in a 202, shattering the individual GW record for 54 holes by 10 strokes and placing second as an individual in a pool of 75 golfers.
The team is much younger than last year, with three freshman manning a five-person starting lineup. After tying in fourth last year at the A-10 Championship, just two of last year’s starter, seniors Jakub Hrinda and Hugo Ribound, are returning this year.
Coaching staff and players said the mix of fresh faces and senior leadership has forged a team dynamic with renewed intensity for the Colonials as they start their season. They said the team is focused on making the most of their time on the fairway together, sticking with a competitive drive against one another during practice to translate the same energy to its tournaments.
“This year’s group of freshmen is a special group,” Head Coach Chuck Scheinost said. “Our seniors are really hungry, and that helps because they’ve done a great job of helping bring the younger guys in and start to teach them things.”
Rodrigo Barahona, Jed Dy and Manuel Barbachano make up the team’s freshman starting lineup, bringing renewed vigor and professional experience at the PGA level to the team. Each earned a place in the PGA’s junior golf championships category hosted in their respective home countries during their high school careers between 2018 and 2021.
Barahona tied for fifth at the VCU shootout of 14 teams after scoring a team-best seven-under par in the final round. Hailing from Monterrey Mexico, Barahona climbed as high as top 40 in the 2022 NCAA recruiting class.
Also from Mexico, freshman Manuel Barbachano was ranked the number one amateur player in Mexico in 2021, winning more than 30 tournaments before college. Rounding out the freshmen representation in the top five is Jed Dy from Makati, Philippines, who was featured in the 2013 Netflix series “The Short Game” – a documentary about young golfers between the age of seven and eight years old who aspired to become professionals.
To determine who makes the top five golfers that play in the tournament, seven athletes have battled it out over a series of qualifying matches against the other 14 college teams throughout the past two months.
“Qualifying was extremely competitive for the first event,” Schenoist said. “It came down to one shot.”
Obstructed by COVID restrictions last year, course closures muddled the practice schedule and prevented consistency for the team. This year has been a return to normal for the Colonials with the restrictions no longer in place, and the stabilized practice regiment has served the team well.
“We practice pretty much everyday except for Wednesday in some form,” senior Hrinda said. “I think the heart of it is that we’re very focused because we don’t have as much time as we would like and so we put a lot of intensity into that time.”
Hrinda said practices set the team’s mindset for the tournaments that lie ahead through physical and mental preparation.
“I think you’re practicing so that you’re in a mental state.” Hrinda said. “You prepare yourself so that you don’t have to think or manage your mentality while you’re playing.”
The team will continue to compete in four tournaments throughout the fall before pausing for a two month winter break and resuming play in the spring semester. The regular season will culminate in the A-10 Championship at Reunion Resort and Golf Club in Orlando, Florida in late April.
In his tenth season with the program, Coach Scheinost has yet to win a team A-10 Championship, but he’s enthusiastic about his team’s start with lower scores that have sent GW into a better league standing. He said he plans to continue building upon the squad’s tournament success to win its first conference championship.
“I think the best part about our opening week is we could have played a lot better,” Scheinost said. “We had some stuff that we could have done better.”
Scheinost said the team could have found their stride better in the par 3 and cut down on bogeys at VCU to make a bid for first place in the tournament. But with an influx of talent and determined leadership, the team has its eyes set on that ultimate prize of an A-10 Championship title.
“This year’s group, the A-10 Championship is our ultimate goal at the end of the day,” Schenoist said. “But winning is a byproduct of going through the process and working hard.”
GW will play its second event of the season Monday and Tuesday at The Howard and San Francisco Intercollegiate at TPC Potomac, Maryland, a common stop on the PGA tour.