Aug. 23, 2013
GALESBURG—Despite several new faces, the goal remains the same this season for the Carl Sandburg College men’s golf team.
“My expectations this season are to return to the national tournament,” Chargers coach Ryan Twaddle said. “This program’s used to performing at national tournaments, and we can get back to that level if we get consistent play out of our freshmen.”
Sandburg is coming off its third appearance in four years at the NJCAA Division II national tournament, where the team’s 12th-place finish in May was the best in program history. But the Chargers graduated four members from that team, including all-Arrowhead Conference members Nick Gustafson, Chad Hatch and Cody Reiber.
They do, however, return an all-conference player in sophomore Joey Juergens, a Galesburg High School product who placed 10th in the Galesburg Men’s All-City tournament over the summer.
“Joey’s big for us coming back. He was one of our best players last year,” Twaddle said. “We don’t want to put too much pressure on Joey. We don’t want him to think he has to shoot a low round every tournament, but he’s capable of and should be around par every time.”
Juergens’ finished tied for 63rd at the national tournament, highlighted by a 1-over-par final round. Twaddle hopes Juergens can carry over that finish into his sophomore season and provide some wisdom for his teammates.
“Having the experience to go to a national tournament is big for a freshman, especially when we expect to go back there this year,” Twaddle said. “He can share some of that insight with a pretty freshman-heavy team of what to do and what not to do.”
One of the team’s newcomers actually is a familiar face. Williamsfield High School graduate Patrick Lewis, who played for the Chargers during the 2008-09 season, has rejoined the program. Lewis, a standout for Sandburg’s men’s basketball team from 2008-10, returned to finish his degree and fulfill his remaining year of eligibility for golf.
“We really want to push kids to finish their degrees, and Patrick’s pretty close,” Twaddle said. “With a year of eligibility left, we’re hoping that golf will keep him in line to get his degree.”
Twaddle, who is in his first full season as coach after taking over the team last spring, also brought in freshmen Bryer Anderson of Farmington, Austin McDougall of Pekin and former Metamora teammates Ryan Ballard and Dylan Mullins.
“Right now all of our freshmen have shot pretty good,” Twaddle said. “They’ve all had one bad round, and that’s what we’re trying to eliminate. We’re trying to get them consistent so when they go out and play we all know what to expect of each other.”
That, Twaddle said, was one of the strengths of last season’s squad.
“That’s what we’re trying to get this team to do,” Twaddle said. “They know, ‘My teammates are all going to be around par. It’s OK for me to have a bad hole or two.’ They can relax a little bit instead of trying to make birdies on every hole.”
The Chargers open their season at 1:30 p.m. today with the PrairieView Preview at PrairieView Golf Club in Byron. It will be one of three events for the team at that course during the fall season, including the Region IV tournament Oct. 10-12. The top two teams from the tournament qualify for the national tournament, which takes place May 20-23 at Swan Lake Resort in Plymouth, Ind.
Members of the 2013-14 Carl Sandburg College men’s golf team are: Bryer Anderson, Ryan Ballard, Joey Juergens, Patrick Lewis, Austin McDougall and Dylan Mullins.
Carl Sandburg College men’s golfer Patrick Lewis hits a shot during a practice round Tuesday at Lake Bracken Country Club. Lewis is back with the Chargers after last playing for the team during the 2008-09 season.