A strong finish boosted the Waldorf University men’s golf team to a fifth-place performance in the Briar Cliff University Invitational.
The Warriors put together a team score of 616 strokes in the two-day tournament, which concluded on Thursday. It marked the second straight tournament where a second-day turnaround helped Waldorf make a jump in the team standings.
“We’re getting off to a slow start,” Waldorf coach Mark Clouse said. “We need to get out with the same effort on both days, so we can get closer to the top.”
The Warriors held 10th following a 315-stroke team total on the opening day. Improving by 14 strokes in the final round had them back in the mix.
“We’re putting ourselves too far behind after Day 1 to win the tournament, but we’re making good comebacks,” Clouse said. “It’d be nice to have that during both days because we’d be right in the mix.”
Hugo Becerra led Waldorf, tying for 14th with a 36-hole score of 149. The senior from Ocotlan, Mexico fired rounds of 75 and 74 on the par-72 layout at Green Valley Golf Course. Becerra registered the team’s top performance for the third consecutive tournament.
“He’s been consistently providing scores for the team,” Clouse said. “I’m looking for that to continue.”
Senior Thomas O’Rourke tied for 21st, carding a 152-stroke total for the Warriors behind rounds of 79 and 73.
“Thomas came back with a really good second day,” Clouse said.
Waldorf senior Chad Hein tied for 29th, shooting a 156 on rounds of 79 and 77.
Freshman Justin Pierce and sophomore Zabdiel Flores rounded out the lineup for the Warriors. Pierce tied for 36th, delivering a 160-stroke finish following rounds of 82 and 78. Flores tied for 40th, turning in a 162 with rounds of 85 and 77.
Waldorf senior Austin Sommer competed as an individual and placed 50th with a 165, recording rounds of 78 and 87.
Consistency keyed Waldorf’s ascent in the team standings as all five members of the lineup were separated by just five strokes during the second round. It’s a promising sign for the Warriors, who are gearing up for the spring stage of the North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) Championships.
“If we can get that over both days, we’ll be a threat at the conference tournament,” Clouse said. “It’s definitely good to see the turnaround after Day 1. Hopefully, we can build on that momentum going into the conference tournament.”
Northwestern College and Morningside College tied for first atop the team standings with 581-stroke totals. However, Northwestern’s Austin Reitz recorded a birdie on a playoff hole to lift the Red Raiders to the team title and force the Mustangs to settle for second.
Dakota Wesleyan University (595) secured third, Concordia University (610) grabbed fourth while Waldorf (616) claimed fifth in a 12-team tournament that resulted in little separation toward the top.
“It’s why we need to put together a Day 1 score that keeps us in the hunt for the title,” Clouse said. “We’re right there, but we’ve got to have both days to be able to be at the top.”
The Warriors, who faced competition entirely from the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) during the tournament, finished ahead of Northwestern’s B Team (618), Mount Marty College (619), Morningside’s B Team (624), Briar Cliff University (629), Dordt College (647), Briar Cliff’s B Team (675) and Dordt’s B Team (697).
“These are teams that have been doing very well,” Clouse said. “To compete well against them is a good sign that we’re trending in the right direction.”
Waldorf now shifts its focus to the NSAA Championships, scheduled for April 24-25 at 9 a.m. in Onalaska, Wis. The Warriors enter the final two rounds of the cumulative 72-hole conference tournament sitting in fifth with a 656-stroke total and look to gain ground coming off a positive finish on Thursday.
“We’re hoping that we have our best game ready for the conference tournament,” Clouse said. “Having a good showing on Day 2, I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to continue with that and play well at the conference tournament.”