Men’s golf to take on Summit League Championships

Jacob VanZuiden, Courier Staff

As the academic school year inches closer to its conclusion, the Western Illinois men’s golf season has done the same. The Purple and Gold will take the course one last time this season beginning on April 28 as they head to Newton, KS to compete in the biggest event of the year. The Summit League Championships are set to tee-off Sunday afternoon, giving the Leathernecks one last shot at glory at the Sand Creek Station Golf Course as they compete in the three-day event.

The Leathernecks will bring an experienced group to the table to battle for this year’s grand prize. Similar to the lineup they’ve rolled with all season-long, Jackson Wetherbee (Sr.), Kyle Irlbacker (Jr.), Parker Govern (Fr.), Wyatt Spier (So.) and John Duggan III (Sr.) will make up the competing squad for Western. The team will look to Wetherbee to lead them to victory, as the standout senior has been a huge bright spot for them all year. Wetherbee, coming off an admirable performance in the Beu Mussatto Invitational where he received medalist honors, was named Summit League co-golfer of the week for his latest showing.

Interim head coach Lia Biehl Lukkarinen raved about her ever-improving upperclassmen following the performance. She hopes that Wetherbee can continue his recent strong play in Sunday’s first round of action at the Summit League Championships.

“Jackson Wetherbee is very deserving of the Summit League Golfer of the Week honor,” said Lukkarinen. “He set some specific goals and has been working hard to achieve them. His recent scores reflect his dedication and talent. I’m looking forward to seeing what he will accomplish at tThe Summit League Championships.”

The Summit League Championships won’t be a walk in the park for The Purple and Gold, as a group of familiar conference rivals will stack up against them. Competing in the event alongside the Leathernecks will be Denver, North Dakota, North Dakota State, Omaha, Oral Roberts, Purdue Fort Wayne, South Dakota and South Dakota State. The Leathernecks will aim to make a larger impact than they managed last season after a sixth-place finish in 2018.

Hopes are high, however, after the team was able to capture a second-place finish in the Beu Mussatto Invitational last time out. In what was arguably their most well-rounded team effort of the year, the Leathernecks fell just short of Indian Hills for the top spot.

Lukkarinen seems as ready for the tournament as anyone. Excitement in her voice was evident when speaking about the upcoming event.

“We are looking forward to The Summit League Championships at Sand Creek Station,” said Lukkarinen. “It’s been there the last few years, so some of the team has on course experience. Driving and iron accuracy will be at a premium. If the men play to their potential, we will do very well.”

If the Purple and Gold can limit their mistakes and replicate the composure they showed in their last meet, there’s a real shot they could come out of The Summit League Championships victorious. In what will be the final contest in both Wetherbee and Duggan III’s collegiate careers, some extra motivation will drive them to leave the program with something to remember them by.