Golfers wind up first at Lalaeff Invitational
A sub-300 team score on the second day of competition propelled St. Xavier University’s men’s golf squad to a first-place finish at the Mike Lalaeff Memorial Invitational in Hammond, Ind.
The Cougars, whose most recent event victory came on Sept. 25, 2012, shot a cumulative 297 last Tuesday at Lost Marsh Golf Course, giving them a tournament total of 601 and putting them ahead of 15 other schools. Second-place Carthage College carded a 621.
Seniors Kirby Brown and James Kerr supplied SXU with an individual championship and runner-up showing, respectively, after being separated by just one stroke. Brown fired a second-round 71 to finish at 147 overall, while Kerr’s 148 was built on 18-hole scores of 75 and 73.
Also contributing to the Cougars’ total were junior Kyle Bahnick (151; 77-74), who took fifth, and senior Brendan Ryan (155; 76-79), who wound up ninth. SXU’s fifth golfer was sophomore Zach Trent, who shot a 166 for the tourney and occupied the No. 44 position.
“Our team played very well on a tough golf course that had many hazards and troubled areas,” SXU coach Mike Mandakas said. “We are getting better every tournament and look forward to our next event.”
The Cougars opened play in the Chicago State University Invitational this past Monday at Harborside Golf Course. The tournament ran through Tuesday.
WOMEN’S CROSS COUNTRY
Senior Jordan Wallace’s 17th-place finish in a field of 207 runners highlighted the Cougars’ appearance at last Friday’s National Catholic Cross Country Invitational in South Bend, Ind.
Hosted by Notre Dame at the university’s golf course, the NCCCI brought together schools of all sizes. For scoring purposes, they were then broken up into NCAA Division I and non-Division I categories.
SXU wound up ninth in the latter division, ahead of 17 other teams. It produced the second-best performance of any NAIA entrant, with only No. 17-ranked Aquinas (Mich.) College doing better. Aquinas was third among non-Division I programs.
Wallace timed out in 19 minutes, 9.9 seconds for 5K, which was only 13.8 seconds faster than junior teammate Leslie Rosario, who provided the Cougars with another top-30 finish by being the 27th individual overall to reach the chute. Also scoring for SXU were freshman Nicole Watkins (61st in 20:10.6), sophomore Ann Kolker (81st, 20:32.6) and freshman Dana Martin (83rd, 20:36.2).
After taking this coming weekend off, the Cougars will compete in the 12th annual Greater Louisville Cross Country Classic on Oct. 5. The event, which will include three women’s races, will be held at Tom Sawyer State Park.
MEN’S CROSS COUNTRY
The Cougars were idle this past weekend, but coach Ed McAllister believes his team is ready to take several steps forward, starting with Friday’s Brissman-Lundeen Invitational at Saukie Golf Course in Rock Island.
McAllister’s optimism stems from SXU’s strong exhibition at the Illinois Intercollegiate Championships, where it placed sixth in an 18-team field at Aspen Ridge Golf Course in Bourbonnais. Senior Brian Corcoran posted a top-10 individual finish by completing the 8K race in 25:22, but four other Cougars — Chris Shellenberger, Brian Meyer, Chris Sarna and Eric Hancock — were also among the first 50 runners to reach the chute.
SXU’s remaining three competitors placed 51st, 56th and 58th.
The Cougars lowered by an average of 69 seconds per man the times they had recorded one week earlier at Aspen Ridge, when they participated in Olivet Nazarene University’s Midwest Classic.
“I am quite satisfied with the overall performance,” McAllister said after the Illinois Intercollegiates. “We improved considerably over the previous week’s race on the same course. I see this team moving forward on a weekly basis.
“Corcoran ran his usual solid race, and Shellenberger, Meyer and Sarna created a solid pack that should lead this team over the next few weeks. I expect season-best times [at Rock Island].”
A strong all-around effort by junior setter Kelli Shaffer couldn’t help the Cougars overcome Cardinal Stritch University in their Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference opener last Tuesday at the Shannon Center.
The Wolves staved off SXU in five sets, 16-25, 25-18, 25-13, 22-25, 15-11. The loss dropped the Cougars’ ledger to 3-6 overall.
Shaffer ended the evening with 26 assists, a career-high 20 digs, four kills, two service aces and two assisted blocks. Sophomore middle blocker Heidi Gregerson put down 12 kills to further aid SXU’s cause, while juniors Marie Hackert (six kills, six block assists), Jessica Galotta (six kills, 12 digs, two block assists) and Dominqiue Aramburu (17 digs) were other individuals of note.
Senior Monique Morris’ match-high 20 kills and 15 digs paced Stritch.
A road trip proved just what the doctor ordered for the Cougars, who got back on track by winning a pair of matches last weekend.
SXU (5-6) opened with a 25-20, 14-25, 25-17, 26-24 victory over Siena Heights in Adrian, Mich., on Friday night, then followed up with a 25-18, 25-20, 25-20 triumph over Lourdes University in Sylvania, Ohio, the next day.
Hackert and Gregerson gave the Cougars a strong 1-2 punch on Friday, as they were dominant along the net. Hackert registered 12 kills while making just one hitting error, and Gregerson backed her with eight kills and seven total blocks, two of which were solo efforts.
Sophomore right-side hitter Megan Falsey delivered 11 kills on SXU’s behalf. Shaffer registered 38 assists, five kills and nine digs, and Aramburu had a match-best 20 digs.
The Cougars carried that momentum into Saturday, as Gregerson (match-high 13 kills, four total blocks), Hackert (11 kills), Shaffer (32 assists, eight digs, two kills), Falsey (eight kills, three assisted blocks) and Aramburu (21 digs) all played prominent roles.
SXU visited Trinity International University for a CCAC match this past Tuesday in Deerfield.
Scores were higher than expected for the Cougars in their second outing of the season.
After two of SXU’s three golfers posted top-six finishes at the Benedictine University Invitational the Sunday before, none of the Cougars could settle into a groove at the Chicago State University Invitational. Katie Reno, who took second in her collegiate debut, was unable to shoot below 90 on either day at Harborside Golf Course.
Struggling as well were teammates Taylor Thompson and Courtney Dudgeon. Thompson recorded the only sub-90 round by firing an 83 during last Monday’s opening session and was the highest placer for SXU as she occupied the 67th position.
The Cougars travel to Fulton, Mo., for their next encounter, as they’ll be part of the field at the William Woods Fall Invitational. The event will be played Monday and Tuesday at Tanglewood Golf Course.
The Cougars’ scheduled return to action after an eight-day layoff didn’t happen, as last Wednesday’s home match against Cornerstone University was canceled due to lightning.
SXU (0-5) was back in pursuit of its initial win this past Tuesday, when it hosted the University of St. Francis in a CCAC contest.