Wittenberg men’s golf team tops NCAC for first time since 2019

David Wetterich will coach Tigers at NCAA championships next week

David Wetterich’s professional golf career was in limbo a year ago. After competing on PGA Tour Canada and on other mini-tours throughout the United States, he had run out of money to support his game and didn’t want to search for sponsorships again.

The idea of coaching came into his mind. A week or so later, the job at his alma mater, Wittenberg University, opened. At first, he wasn’t interested but gave Athletic Director Brian Agler some names of other candidates he should contact. Then he changed his mind and reached out to Agler again a few weeks later to see if the position was still open.

“I’ve been talking to a few people,” Wetterich told Agler in an email, “and I’ve been thinking about a few things and I think it might be a good fit and a good opportunity.”

Wetterich threw his hat in the ring and got a response from Agler within the hour. Wittenberg announced the hiring of Wetterich, a 2014 Wittenberg graduate out of La Salle High School in Cincinnati, as men’s and women’s golf coach on July 21. He replaced a 2019 Wittenberg graduate, Colin Laszlo, who had led the programs since July 2020 until stepping down on June 1, 2022.

Laszlo played on Wittenberg’s Division III national championship team in 2017. Now Wetterich will try to lead the program back to that level. The Tigers will compete in the national championship starting Tuesday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

Wittenberg won its 12th North Coast Athletic Conference title on April 30 at Westfield Country Club in Westfield Center. It was the program’s first championship since 2019 when it won its 10th straight title.

“The guys were just really receptive to myself and the rest of the coaching staff coming on board and bought into what we gave to them at the start,” Wetterich said. “They took that momentum and won a few tournaments in the fall season. The spring was good, even though we didn’t win as much. Winning the NCAC championship was big for us. We felt we accomplished a lot because the golf course we played was challenge-wise very similar to where we’re going for the national championship. Winning that and getting back on that momentum train of finishing at the top of the leaderboard, it feels really good.”

Sophomore Matthew Mattiolo won the medalist honor at the NCAC championship with a 54-hole score of 212 (2 over). Senior Evan DiSanto finished second with a 214. Junior J.F. Aber, who won the NCAC player of the year award, finished third with a 219. Junior Nicklaus Pidgeon tied for fifth with a 222.

“We had four guys win a title this year,” Wetterich said. “All of them have been integral parts to the team, but it goes down all the way to the 14th man on the roster. I told the guys all year the best competition you’re going to see is in practice at Springfield Country Club every day. We believe we’re one of the best teams in the country, and what better way to hone your skills than to train with the best and practice with the best and compete with the best. Getting that into their heads pretty quickly, it seemed to work well and be a good formula for getting some guys individual titles.”

Wittenberg’s golf program took off during Wetterich’s years as a player. He was a second-team All-American in 2012. Jeff Roope, who took over the program in 2007, coached the Tigers then and turned the program into a powerhouse that would finish in the top 10 at the NCAA championships six times from 2010-17. He also led the women’s program to three straight NCAC titles as well as a second-place NCAA finish in 2015 and a third-place finish in 2017.

“Coach Roope was amazing,” Wetterich said. “I enjoyed my four years with him. He just kind of gave it to you how it is. That’s one thing that motivated us for better and for worse, like whether or not you were in the lineup or you were traveling, he always gave that push for the guys, especially. I recall a few times in our last practice of the year, he said, ‘Have a great summer, guys. It was an awesome year. I’m going to go find some guys to take your spot in the lineup.’ He was saying that jokingly, looking back at it, but whether or not we took it jokingly or literally, it was still something to keep the fire going. He didn’t set the bar too high that we couldn’t reach it but challenged us just enough.”

Toledo hired Roope in July 2017. He was named the Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year in 2022 after leading the Rockets to a second-place finish at the MAC championship.

Wetterich also credits the facilities Wittenberg has access to for the success of the men’s and women’s programs.

“Springfield Country Club has been awesome to us,” he said, " and we’re grateful to be out there. A handful of courses in the area have been has been awesome to us as well. We can go out to some of them for little or nothing. We’re grateful for that. Let’s say Springfield just aerated, we can go to Windy Knoll, or we can go to Reid Park.”

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