2011 Calvin Men’s Golf Outlook
Monday, August 15, 2011
The Calvin men’s golf team will enter the 2011 MIAA season like no previous Calvin team before. For the first time the Knights will enter conference play as defending MIAA champions.
Calvin captured the 2010 MIAA title in improbable fashion, overcoming a 19-stroke deficit on the final day of the league season to edge Trine by two strokes for the MIAA Championship – the first in Calvin men’s golf history. As MIAA champions, the Knights garnered the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA III Championships in the spring, finishing 26th out of 40 teams.
Defending its MIAA title will be a tall task for Calvin as the Knights graduate key seniors Jess Hendriksma and Eric Doezema. In addition, the competition within the league is expected to be fierce.
“I thought last year there were as many as five teams that had legitimate shots at winning the league title and I think that will be true again this fall,” said Calvin men’s golf coach Brian Bolt. “I think the traditional powers like Hope, Olivet and Trine will be right there but there are other teams, most notably Adrian that are on the rise and will be difficult to beat.”
The upcoming MIAA season will also feature a change as the league season will include both fall and spring components. The fall season will again feature eight league tournaments with the team at the top of the final standings declared the MIAA regular season champion. The MIAA qualifier to the NCAA III Championships will not be decided until the spring however as three 18-hole rounds consisting of the MIAA spring season will determine the league’s automatic qualifier to the national championships. The team that has the top cumulative score in the three spring rounds will receive the automatic bid.
“It certainly adds a new element to our league season,” said Bolt. “I think it will definitely create a sense of urgency for golfers across the league during the winter months to continue to work on their games, even if that is doing so indoors.”
Calvin does return a relatively experienced roster this fall. Returning letterwinners include seniors Jake DeBoer (Byron Center/South Christian HS) and Brennan Volbeda (Holland/Holland Christian HS); juniors Ben Kuiper (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS), Dave Sarkipato (Kalamazoo/Kalamazoo Christian HS) and Mike Fennema (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS) and sophomores Ross Ryzenga (Holland/Holland Christian HS), Jake Hoogstrate (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS), Mark Allen (Oconomowoc, WI/Lake Country Lutheran HS) and Kory Kiefer (Howell/Detroit Catholic Central HS).
DeBoer is an experienced veteran who has seen stints in Calvin’s top-five during his career while Volbeda returns to the Calvin roster after spending the 2010 fall semester studying overseas.
Kuiper and Sarkipato have been mainstays in Calvin’s lineup over the past two years. Kuiper finished 15th in the final MIAA individual standings last fall, averaging 76.9 strokes-per-round while Sarkipato was close behind in 16th place with an average of 77.1 strokes-per-outing. Kuiper was the MIAA medalist at a tournament hosted by Albion in early September last fall with a round of 72 while Sarkipato took second with a round of 74. Both individuals also represented Calvin at the NCAA III Championships last spring with Kuiper carding rounds of 74 and 80 while Sarkipato came in at 80 both days of competition. Like DeBoer, Fennema is another experienced veteran who has seen action in Calvin’s lineup over the past two years.
Ryzenga stepped up for the Knights during spring play, gaining a spot in Calvin’s lineup for the NCAA III Championships where he had rounds of 85 and 78. Hoogstrate also saw significant action as a freshman a year ago, often serving as Calvin’s “sixth man” in tournament play. Allen and Kiefer also saw action in reserve roles last year and could also push for spots in the Calvin lineup in the fall.
Calvin’s incoming class also includes a group of freshmen who will look to make an impact on the roster.
“We have a good group of returning veterans,” said Bolt. “I think the challenge will be finding someone who wants to assume the number-one spot in the lineup. There is always more pressure that goes with that position and we have had someone new step into that role each of the past two years. I think our depth will be solid but the key will be to find individuals who can shoot low scores consistently. We have the potential to be a very good team again. The challenge will be reaching that potential.”
Calvin opens its season at the annual Olivet College Comet Classic September 2 and 3 at the Bedford Valley Country Club. The first MIAA Tournament of the year is scheduled to be held September 8 at the Medalist Golf Club with Albion serving as host. Calvin will host the second-to-last league outing of the year, doing so on October 3 at the Watermark Country Club.