By Marc Weems
After two lackluster performances in the first two tournaments of the year for Youngstown State University, the Penguins are looking to shine with a youthful group.
YSU head coach Tony Joy believes that is just part of the learning curve for young, inexperienced collegiate golfers.
“In both tournaments, there were obviously a lot of top teams at both tournaments,” Joy said. “Going to Athens, Ga. with top teams in the country, we wanted to compete a little better than we did. There were a lot of positives. The first tournament in Nevada, the upperclassmen played really well the first day and the underclassmen played well the second day. When we got to Athens, it was unfortunate that the weather was so bad.”
The Penguins placed 12th out of 15 teams at the Jackrabbit Invitational in Nevada and placed 18th out of 18 teams at the Southern Intercollegiate Championships.
With a really young roster comes issues. Those issues start with an adjustment to quality of play for sure.
“The freshmen aren’t used to those conditions especially with the winter off,” Joy said. “They play all summer and all fall. When they get to college, they have to sit indoors and then go back outside. Golf isn’t any different than softball or baseball. We compete against teams that play outdoors almost all year.”
That adjustment period happens in every sport with all freshmen at this level. Joy said that the freshmen that played in both tournaments, Ken Keller, Kevin Scherr, and Cole Hughes, showed signs of great golf. Keller had a team-low two-day total of 158 in the Southern Intercollegiate.
“A little bit disappointing that we weren’t a little more competitive than we were,” Joy said. “It seems like the upperclassmen will play as well as they can as long as the freshmen continue to succeed. I think the combination of the two will work out pretty well. We have a mix of two seniors and three freshmen that normally play.”
The Penguins will look ahead to their next event which begins on March 25-27 at Kingsmill Intercollegiate hosted by College of William & Mary. YSU had fared well in this tournament before and should again.
“This is a good situation,” Joy said. “Both Dom Carano and Justin Hallapy are graduating seniors. They know what is going on with their futures so they are a little more relaxed than most seniors. I wouldn’t be surprised to see us get competitive in a hurry.”
With just two seniors on the roster, the Penguins will need to continue to establish who the major contributors outside of Hallapy and Carano will be. For now, it seems that Keller, Hughes and Scherr are those guys at the present but those things can change in an instant.
“Down in Athens, it was raining and windy every day. Some of those young guys go ‘What is this?’ This is college golf,” Joy said through a hearty laugh. “We have a good mix. Evan Standohar and Jason McQuown have both been key. The rest of the spring, those two and JR Stark all have a chance to get into the lineup.”
Joy believes that this is some of the best freshmen that he has recruited that have been able to play right away in some time. He also said that’s not a knock on other guys just a credit to these current freshmen.
YSU will look to get back on track in Williamsburg, Va. on March 25-27 at the Kingsmill Intercollegiate.