February 21, 2012

W&L Men's Golf Spring Season Preview

The Washington and Lee golf program may be in transition, but that doesn't mean the Generals aren't focusing their goals on ascending to the top of the always difficult Old Dominion Athletic Conference. 

New Head Coach Pete Gyscek has a young roster that features one senior and one junior, to go along with four sophomores and eight first-years.

"We have an extremely young team, but I do see advantages to that," said Gyscek.  "We've got a good work ethic and they are extremely interested in improving and now our goal is to give them the tools to continue improving.  Early on, it is best for the guys to measure their success in the improvement of their own game and allow the team concept to come together."

Gyscek feels his team showed progress during the fall season, but classified the early portion of the schedule like "being around .500". 

"What I mean by that is that we had eight competitive rounds and in four of those we played our best golf," he said.  "We also had four rounds that we were not at our best and they will give us insight about where to focus this spring."

Seven players broke into the starting lineup during the fall and Gyscek is hoping to have 1-2 more players show their best efforts and earning a starting nod as well.  One player whose position is likely not in doubt is senior captain Wilson Anthony.  Anthony has played every round over the past three seasons and he carries a 78.1 scoring average across 59 rounds played.  This fall, he was second on the team with a 77.6 stroke average.

"Wilson had a good fall season and was in that .500 range," said Gyscek.  "We're really looking for him to put his best effort out there every event this spring and finish off a rather stellar career here at W&L."

Sophomore Jack Cottrill is coming off a solid fall season that saw him post a team-best 76.9 average over eight rounds played.  He came out of the gates strong, finishing fourth at the Bridgewater Tom Kinder Invitational and tying for seventh at the Randolph-Macon Ted Keller Invitational.  As a first-year, he finished third on the team with a 79.2 average over 18 rounds.

"Jack has definitely shown to have a leadership role on our team and we look forward to him continuing that work, especially with such young team," remarked Gyscek.

Two of Cottrill's classmates, Mark Sowinski and Jake Struebing, also played all eight rounds during the fall and will figure prominently during the spring.  Sowinski averaged 80.4 strokes, while Struebing registered a 79.0 scoring average.

Sowinski tied for 14th at the Bridgewater event for his best finish, while Struebing tied for 15th at the Virginia Intercollegiate.

"Both Mark and Jake have taken their games to a new level after competing in about half of the events last season," noted Gyscek.  "I truly look forward to watching their games evolve this spring and they will certainly be an important part of our team results."

First-year players Patrick Clossin, Stu Lotz and Joey Manzinger all broke into the lineup at some points during the fall and Gyscek believes that any one of them could make a big difference for the team this spring.  Clossin carded a 78.3 average over six rounds, while Lotz and Manzinger each saw action in a pair of rounds.

"The experience that those guys gained traveling with the team during the fall will benefit us in a short period of time as we get ready for the spring," Gyscek offered.

Gyscek also mentioned that several other members of the team could break the lineup as the season progresses, producing healthy competition among the roster.  Additionally, he mentioned the impact that the program's new indoor practice facility has played in their preparation to compete outdoors.

"Our new practice facility in the Warner Center is really helping to reduce the number of days affected by the weather," he said.  "We can still take our swings and stay fresh when we get ready to leave on our trips."

As for those trips, the Generals will once again play an aggressive schedule that will help them prepare for the ODAC Championship in Cape Charles, Va., this April.

"Our No. 1 goal is to prepare for the ODAC Championship where we will compete against some good teams, including top-ranked Guilford," said Gyscek.  "I think that our schedule is one of the most competitive we have had in recent time, but again our goal is to focus on the task at hand each week and let the big picture take care of itself."

The spring season gets underway on Monday as the Generals travel to Southern Pines, N.C., to participate in the Pine Needles Invitational.

You can keep up with the golf team as they compete each week this spring by following them on twitter at @WashLeeGolf.

-- GENERALS --