By: Ryan Gasser, sports information director
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The spring season is underway for Capital University Men's Golf. Head Coach Andy Garcia explained that the team he will unfurl this spring has great potential that can make waves in the conference. The mix of veteran leadership and the possibilities brought on by the younger players give Garcia options and optimism for the coming months.
TRIED AND TRUE
Seniors Logan Holbrook (Logan, Ohio/Logan) and Noah Iovino (Dublin, Ohio/Dublin Jerome) are names the Ohio Athletic Conference have become familiar with over the last four years, and for good reason. Both were All-OAC performers at last year's spring championship, and Holbrook is a two-time all-conference selection seeking a third.
Holbrook has served as the team's low scorer over the last two years and entered the spring season in the same fashion. His average 18-hole score has gradually decreased over his three years and now is hovering near 75.5 shots per round. The now eight-time OAC Men's Golfer of the Week is at the top of his game after breaking the Capital record for single-round low score in the opening round of the Beaver Classic on September 22 (67).
"Logan is going to be our rock," said Garcia. "That is who we are going to look to lean on as the year goes on."
After placing 12th overall at the 2018 OAC Spring Championships, Iovino has made a name for himself to be in the discussion as one of the more successful and consistent golfers in the conference. So far this year, Iovino has not had more than a four-stroke difference between his first and second round scores in a given tournament. That was mostly the case last year, but in two of the three occasions when there was a three or more stroke difference it was due to him lowering his score between rounds.
"He has really come into his own and grown every year that he has been here, who is poised to have a huge spring season here."
NEW TO THE GROUP … KIND OF
Beyond the top two returns, Coach Garcia makes mention that the rest of the lineup is one that has great potential to not just support his top two but also grow into significant roles on the team.
"If we can get those guys to go under par on any given day, then that is when it's going to be something really special for the men's program."
Many of the names resonate around the league, but Garcia notes that most are in their first true full year as starters.
Junior Ryan Czerniakowski (Sylvania, Ohio/Sylvania Northwood) made a big move into the starting lineup last year and excelled to solidify his role. His career low stands at a 71 recorded as a sophomore, but he has on multiple occasions hit 76.
Junior Chris Dearth (Dublin, Ohio) has shown he is capable of shooting in the low 70s after a strong start to his fall campaign. His first rounds of the season he shot 71-73 at the Gatorade Collegiate Classic at Zoar Village Golf Club and now averages under 80 per round.
Also factoring into the rotation will be sophomore Ryan Wright (Powell, Ohio/Olentangy) who in the fall shot a single round low of 76 in the first round of the Beaver Classic, hosted by Bluffton University.
New to lineup is junior Nick Brunsman (Independence, Ohio/Independence) who played in the fall's last two tournaments as an individual but may see time at the five spot or compete as an individual to get his reps in.
A LITTLE EXTRA HELP
For the first time in recent history, the Capital golf program will have an additional asset to help improve this spring. Coach Garcia procured unused space inside the Trinity Lutheran Seminary that has been converted into a new indoor golf training facility.
Varsity C, the alumni support group for Capital Athletics, helped Coach Garcia fund the transformation of the space, which was formerly a bookstore. Instead of shelves, desks and clothing racks there are now turf putting lanes, two driving cages, a chipping practice area, and full lockers to make up what the team now calls 'home'.
"I think it's huge," said Holbrook. "It's been awesome being able to put inside, to swing inside, to do anything of that sort that helps us get better. I think it has prepped us way better than it has in the past years with our other facility."
Instead of ice cold temperatures on an outdoor practice range now the Crusaders have the luxury of an indoor practice facility with electronic simulation and distance gauges to track each player's progress in addition to other helpful tools the team will use to assess its progress and make adjustments.
EVERYBODY IN …
No matter if the individual is newer to the starting rotation or established, Coach Garcia is confident that everybody can contribute. His confidence in his starting five and beyond is incredibly high.
"Some of the positives, especially with our men's program, is the ability for everybody to shoot low scores … each person in our starting five has the ability to shoot under par. For us, now, it's about finding that cohesive unit to all (be able) to do it on the same day."
Consistency in the Crusaders' pre- and in-round habits will be a large factor in the team's performance. Holbrook cites that the mental preparation begins before the team enters a round of play and even before every shot.
"It's a matter of being able to let the bad things go and staying positive throughout the whole round, staying engaged and not get down," said Holbrook.
It is going to take a full team effort to continue climbing the ladder in the OAC, which in recent history has had Otterbein University stand atop the leaderboard at year's end. Coach Garcia admits that the Cardinals have the strong tradition and pageantry of year's past, but the experience of Cap will come in handy to
Capital will have some work to do this spring to contend for the OAC Championship. The regular season champion is crowned by adding the fall and spring championship scores. Currently, Capital (313) sits in eighth place but is only 11 strokes out of the top four spots. John Carroll (303) and Otterbein (305) currently occupy the top two spots with only five swings separating first and fourth place.
"I think what makes [this group] most special is the bond we have that will carry over into golf," said Holbrook. The ideas of never giving up both on oneself and each other has been instilled into this group, and this group will not just be friends but the backup one another will need on the not-so-good days or rounds that are inevitable.