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Men’s golf prepare for first tournament

With the return of four of their top seven players last year, the men’s golf team has high expectations for their first tournament, the Tim Kopka Memorial Tournament, on Friday and Saturday in West Dundee, Ill.

At the tournament, the Vikings will square off against CCIW conference rivals such as North Central College, Carthage College, and Illinois Wesleyan College.

Men’s golf head coach Paul Del Vecchio is optimistic about the team’s chances at the tournament this year.

“This year, I’d be surprised if we weren’t in the top 10,” Del Vecchio said. “There are a few teams that I’d be surprised if they were as good as they were last year.”

The Tim Kopka Memorial Tournament will be at Randall Oaks where the team will play 36 holes over two days.

Senior Tanner Obal said he was fond of the course, having played there many times during his years at Augustana.

“I’ve enjoyed it. Overall, it’s a course I’ve really liked. The course layout fits our eye well,” Obal said.

Obal noted his and the team’s goals during the meet was to improve upon their score and place from their performance last year. The Vikings finished 11th last year with a score of 614.

During the tournament last year, Obal was fourth for the team, scoring a 154 after both days and tying for 43rd place,.Fellow senior Eric Swanson finished third for the team and tied for 38th, junior Gabe Askam tied for 56th place and finished with a score of 157, and senior Michael Jacobs finished 87th with a score of 171.

Del Vecchio is hoping to see the team score near 300 after the first 18 holes on day 1 of the tournament.

“This is the one of the years our team goal of 300 is attainable,” Del Vecchio said.

As the Vikings golf alongside some of the teams from the CCIW, they’ll be keeping an eye on them and comparing themselves to their rivals.

“Our goal is to beat teams in our conference (during the tournament),” Del Vecchio said.

Beyond the first meet, the men’s golf team is hoping to use their solid group of seniors, such as Obal, Michael Jacobs and Eric Swanson, to lead the charge to a great season.

Del Vecchio said there will be other members of the team that may crack the top seven. Junior Gabe Askam was in the top four of the team last year for a few tournaments and finished 34th in the CCIW conference tournament. Sophomore Alex Sierra will be in the mix as well as he finished 20th in the CCIW conference tournament.

The Vikings are also looking to their freshmen. Del Vecchio pointed out Cory Jayne and is  excited to see how well he performs.

Del Vecchio said Jayne was a 10 letter varsity athlete in high school. Obal also said he was impressed with how Jayne has performed in practice.

“So far in practice, Cory has posted some pretty good scores,” Obal said.

Del Vecchio believes that with the team he has this year, they could do very well with both their fall and spring seasons and the conference tournament later on in the year.

“There’s a lot of potential for these guys to do very well,” Del Vecchio said. “They’ve got a lot of confidence. The competition we’re playing against this fall will make this season fun.”