By John Ostapowicz
For the first time this season, the Youngstown State University men’s golf team placed fifth to conclude a three-day tournament at the Bucknell Invitational from Oct. 8 to Oct. 10.
After a 12th-place finish in Cleveland State University’s Tom Tontimonia Invitational from Oct. 2 to Oct. 3, the Penguins rounded out their fall slate in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania at the Bucknell Golf Club. The course itself stretched 6,253 yards and had a par of 70.
The five person line-up, senior Justin Atkinson, fifth year Cole Christman, redshirt senior Dean Austalosh, sophomore Ryan Sam and junior Jacob Sylak, combined for a three-round total of 863.
Over two rounds, Youngstown State recorded scores of 292, 289 and finished the event with a score of 282.
Out of 18 universities, the Penguins went toe-to-toe with Villanova University for the fourth spot but fell short when Mount St. Mary’s University jumped two spots and beat the team by five points.
Atkinson and Sam finished the invitational tied for sixth as the pair led the team with a score of 211. For Sam, it marks a career-low, three-round total and his two-under-par 68 on Day Two featured eight pars and six birdies from No. 8 to No. 11.
Out of the five invitationals that occurred during the fall semester, Atkinson and Autstalosh have participated and placed in each event.
For Atkinson, the conclusion of the fall season ushers in time to bond on and off the course, which allows the team to build chemistry.
“The team’s pretty close, but over the winter, with practice all the time, I hope that going into the spring things will start to click,” Atkinson said.
As an individual, redshirt freshman Michael Porter finished tied for 44th with a three-round total of 222. Porter’s one-over-par 71 featured three birdies and a one-under-par 33.
For Sylak, the team is heading in a strong direction and a positive finish gives the team some confidence before the spring semester.
“We needed to get our confidence back. We’ve had some moments where we’ve put up some good numbers,” Sylak said. “The [Bucknell Invitational] gave us an opportunity to see where we are as a team and give us momentum heading into the spring.”
Although Sylak finished the invitational tied for 65th, his versatility allowed him to conclude the tournament with a three-round score of 225 and a pair of birdies at No. 1 and No. 13.
“We can interchange a lot of guys and we have a lot of talent. We had that in the past but we haven’t had it to this extent,” Sylak said.
Youngstown State will take a break until it begins its spring portion of the 2023-2024 season. The team’s schedule will be announced in the coming weeks.
To keep up with the team and its upcoming schedule, visit ysusports.com.