Leathernecks come in third at home Invitational

Jake VanZuiden, Courier Staff


On Tuesday, the Leatherneck men’s golf team competed in 47th annual Beu Mussatto Invitational held at the Harry Mussatto Golf Course in Macomb. This team was surely relieved to be back on familiar grounds as the host of the event. While it was originally scheduled to begin on Monday, inclement weather forced the meet to be pushed back a day as snowfall covered the area. When golfers teed-off at 8 a.m. on Tuesday morning, they did so by a shotgun start to ensure they’d have no trouble squeezing the two-round event into one day.

Western rolled out two lineups to tackle the two, 18-hole rounds. They opted to go with the familiar “purple” squad and “gold” squad approach, a strategy they implemented most recently at the Savannah State Spring Fling in mid-March. The purple team was comprised of senior Jackson Wetherbee, junior Kyle Irlbacker, freshman Cameron Karney, junior John Duggan III and freshman Parker Govern. This group was led by none other than standout Wetherbee, who competed in Western’s annual home event for the last time. He made sure to go out with a bang, firing a two-round total of 139 (-5). Not only was this good enough to secure a third-place finish for his squad, Wetherbee actually posted the best individual score in the entire tournament. Interim head coach Lia Biehl Lukkarinen was ecstatic about his performance, although it didn’t come as much of a surprise to her as she knew exactly what he was capable of.

”Jackson has been a leader on the team for quite some time,“ said Lukkarinen. ”Hopefully, this will be a boost for The Summit League Championships.“

Not far behind Wetherbee was Govern, finishing with the third-best individual score of the event at 141 (-3) as he continues to build on his rookie collegiate campaign. Irlbacker also had a sufficient day of his own, finishing just over par with a two-round total of 145 (+1) as he placed just outside the top-10 individually. Rounding out the purple lineup was Duggan III and Karney, who concluded the day with scores of 148 (+4) and 151 (+7), respectively. Their combined efforts notched their squad a third-place finish in the event among six competing schools.

The Leathernecks’ gold squad was led by Sophomore Wyatt Spier, who golfed his way to a 144, which was right on par for the course. Second in line was senior Dennis Reedy, firing a score of 149 (+5). Macomb native Joe Burke Jr. showed steady improvement between rounds as he managed to cut eight strokes from his game, finishing the day at 156 (+12). Freshman Nick Ceruzzi also proved his round-one score of 89 was an anomaly, as his score of 76 in the concluding round put him at 165 (+21) for the event. Senior Graham Conrad, who also played in his last-ever Beu Mussatto Invitational, was right on the heels of Ceruzzi with a final score of 166 (+22). While the gold lineup (sixth-place in the event) may not have had the kind of impact as their purple allies, it was a well-rounded performance from both parties, nonetheless. Lukkarinen also seemed to believe both lineups golfed competently considering the weather obstacle they were forced to overcome.

”We faced some crazy weather challenges,“ said Lukkarinen. ”I’m really proud of the grounds crew for getting the course ready. Both the purple and gold teams played much better in the second round. Overall, we were pleased to host and pleased to have Jackson to be medalist in his home tournament finale.“

Now that the Beu Mussatto Invitational has reached its end, the Purple and Gold will have just one thing on their minds; The Summit League Championships. The season’s biggest event will conclude the Leathernecks’ 2019 spring campaign. The team will have just over 11 days to prepare, both mentally and physically for the season-ending meet before heading to Newton, Kan., to compete in the “big dance” beginning on April 28.