2013 Men’s Golf Preview
Thursday, August 29, 2013
By Mark DeHaan
With two MIAA titles and two appearances at Nationals in the past three years, the Calvin men’s golf program has put together its most successful stretch in program history. The Knights finished 26th nationally at the NCAA III Championships in the spring of 2011 and 30th this past spring.
With the pair of national appearances, fifth-year head coach Brian Bolt thinks Calvin is ready to contend for the MIAA annually.
“Toward the end of each season, (the team) sits down as a group and talks about things we’ll work on in the summer, and the guys will work on that stuff independently, and when they return, we’re all eager to get started again,” said Bolt. “We all want to compete for an MIAA title, so I think we’ve developed enough momentum that I think the program is working on a bit of its own inertia.”
This season, the Knights will have to work off that inertia without two four-year players in graduated seniors Ben Kuiper and Dave Sarkipato. Kuiper was the 2011 MIAA MVP while Sarkipato was twice named All-MIAA.
“(Replacing Ben and Dave) is a tall task,” said Bolt. “They were both four year players and they were in the line-up from their freshmen year. They grew into leaders, they grew into very dependable golfers, and were at the very highest part of their game by the time they left.”
Bolt still sees great talent in the lineup golfers that played behind Kuiper and Sarkipato in the past few years, but realizes that they have a lot to prove to the MIAA.
“The guys behind (Ben and Dave) are a little bit different. They have talent as well, but there aren’t quite as many guys that have as much experience. I think we are excited about the guys that we have. In terms of a proven track record however, we have a lot to prove.”
One player that Bolt will look to in particular to step into a leadership role is junior James Van Noord (Troy/Troy Athens).
“(James) played a good bit as a freshman, was a solid lineup player as a sophomore last year and finished just outside of the top 12 (individually) in the MIAA. He’s a very consistent golfer and a very consistent competitor, so we’re looking for him to step in and try and keep it going in the right direction.”
Bolt also likes the toughness that he sees behind Van Noord in a trio of returning seniors: Jake Hoogstrate (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS), Mark Allen (Oconomowoc, WI/Lake Country Lutheran HS), and Ross Ryzenga (Holland/Holland Christian HS).
“We also have a couple of seniors last year that got a good amount of playing time and went to Nationals in Jake Hoogstrate and Mark Allen. Both of them played really well in the fall, did not play quite as well in the spring, but they are grizzled veterans; both tough guys that have really improved their games over the summer. Ross Ryzenga has also played, and he actually went to Nationals a couple years ago when we first went.”
Sophomore Justin Crow (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS) will also look to fill in the lineup.
“Justin Crow has gotten some playing time and has developed and we’re hoping that he can step into a lineup role as well,” said Bolt.
Despite the change in roster, Bolt says the Knights will look to push for the MIAA just as they have the past few seasons. And, although the team lost its top two golfers, Bolt is confident that Calvin’s program is still ascending, and ready to make the final push toward being a prominent player on the national stage.
“I think our goals are the same every year. We think we’re to the point that we can compete at the MIAA level, and we want to make sure that we’re in the mix. We’d like to win it in the fall. If we don’t win it we certainly want to be in the spring qualifier, which are the top four. We’re looking as a program at trying to move to the next level if we should make it to Nationals. We’re getting to the point that we want to start putting some pressure on other schools at the national level, and get to the point where we’re making the cut, which is probably the next step.”