Western Courier

Savvy veterans return to men’s golf team

By Tom Loftus

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The confidence that Western Illinois men’s golf team gained by winning its own Beu/Mussatto Invitational last March has not yet reached its expiration date.

Leathernecks coach Mel Blasi has high hopes that the returning members of that squad caught a glimpse of just how good they could be that day, and have been working toward building on that success ever since.

Blasi, whose team finished sixth in the Summit League last spring, will welcome back several savvy veterans this fall in seniors Kurt Slattery, Andrew Godfrey, Seth Brannan and Tim Harwood, juniors Konrad Deka and Ben Kilborn, and sophomores Carson Baugher, Dan Bidle, Matt Calder and Peter McKenzie.

That group will compete with highly touted freshman recruits Nate Davis and Tyler Thorman for a chance to represent Western in its quintet of scheduled fall competitions. Red-shirt freshmen Alex Flaugher and Robinson Logue complete Blasi’s deep and talented squad.

“Kurt Flattery transferred (to Western) at the (beginning of the spring) semester (this) year, and he played very well for us, especially toward the end of the spring,” said Blasi, who is beginning his 13th season as coach of the Leathernecks. “He actually was our low scorer in the last two tournaments of the year. So, between Kurt, Andrew Godfrey and Tim Harwood, I think we have good upper-class strength. They’ve got the experience; we’re counting on those three for our leadership this year.

“I think we have a pretty deep squad this year,” Blasi continued. “Ben Kilborn has played a lot the last few years… Konrad Deka has a lot of experience under his belt, and Dan Bidle, who was a freshman last year and played in almost every event. So those three coming back, with (our) seniors, give us a nice nucleus for a team.”

Meanwhile, Davis, who won the Class 1A state title last fall for West Central High, and Tyler Thorman, a three-sport athlete at Macomb High who won five tournaments last year for the Bombers including the Quincy regional, could make an immediate impact for the Leathernecks.

“We have a lot of depth on the team this year, which is going to make a nice competitive situation for qualifying,” Blasi said. “As a coach, I think it’s a great problem to have, to have five or six guys competing for those last couple of spots, which is what I think is going to happen this year.

“I’m looking forward to it. We don’t really have a star… or at least it doesn’t appear that we will this year, but I think that we’ll have five players who can all score and can be our leader at any time, and that’s what you look for as a coach.”

Western opens play this fall Sept. 12-13 at the Nebraska Fairway Club Invitational in Nebraska City, Neb. The Leathernecks will also compete at events at the University of Kansas, Illinois State and DePaul, before concluding their fall campaign at the APSU Intercollegiate in Hopkinsville, Ky., Oct. 17-18.

“In order to be competitive as a team, you really need to have all five guys that can win individually at any tournament, and I think we’ll have that this year,” Blasi said. “We didn’t have that last year; we were a little short experience-wise.

“It’s a little different feel this year. The conference is very strong; we have our work cut out for us in terms of winning a conference championship, but I certainly that think it’s possible if things came together this year, that we would compete for a championship.”

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
Savvy veterans return to men’s golf team