The Wright State golf team has finished in the top half of the field in three of four fall tournaments, including a runner-up showing in the Valparaiso Crusader Collegiate last month.
Although coach Brian Arlinghaus isn’t content with just respectable results — he was definitely hoping for more at the 13-team Valpo tourney, where the Raiders were defending champs — he believes the experience his youthful squad is getting will pay off when the season heats up next spring.
“Our young guys now know what it feels like to be in the competition, and it’s humongous to learn that,” he said. “Like last year, at the Horizon League championships, we had the lead after round one, and our guys weren’t really too familiar with what it felt like to be in the lead. This is only going to help us come spring time and championship season.”
Austin Schoonmaker, a junior from Springboro, and Bryce Haney, a sophomore from Wayne, have been leading the way. They posted top-five finishes at Valpo and have shaved strokes off last year’s averages.
Schoonmaker has gone from 75.76 to 72.82 while also excelling in the classroom. He was named academic all-conference with a 4.0 grade-point average in Accounting.
“Schoonie has really taken off,” Arlinghaus said. “He’s put in more work than just about anybody I’ve ever seen, and it’s really started to pay dividends for him.
“His swing is coming together nicely. But more than anything, his approach to the game and the mental side of it has really, really improved. He’s a super-duper-good role model for the young guys.”
Haney had a breakout season in 2017-18 while being named the league freshman of the year and second-team all-conference. His average has gone from 75.45 to 74.27.
“Bryce is Mr. Consistent,” Arlinghaus said. “He doesn’t make many mistakes. He’s yet to find that gear to get him shooting in the mid- to lower-60s, but it’s there.”
The lone senior in the lineup is Mitch Lehigh, who is averaging 73.75. Rounding out the top six are sophomore Nathan Arnold (76.73) and freshmen Cole Corder (75.73) and Davis Root (76.13).
The Raiders play Monday and Tuesday at the UD Invitational at NCR South. It’s the highlight of the six-tourney fall season because they always like competing with the host Flyers on a great local venue.
“It’s just like basketball. They’re the team everybody in Dayton knows, and we’re trying to make sure people don’t forget about us,” Arlinghaus said.
“But I don’t want to say it’s a rivalry. Everybody is friends. Gip and I are friends,” he added, referring to UD coach Gip Hoagland. “The players all know each other from summer tournaments and practicing together. It doesn’t matter if it’s UD or Oakland or Ohio State or UNLV. We still want to beat everyone out there.”
The Raiders finish the fall season Oct. 22-23 at the Xavier Muskies Classic. After the winter break, they’ll play in mid-February in Savannah, Ga., and will have a busy spring after that while gearing up for the Horizon League tourney in April.
They fell one spot to 23rd in the United Soccer Coaches poll.
They knocked off visiting West Virginia, 3-0, on Tuesday as Stefan Rokvic scored a pair of goals and play at Oakland at 3 p.m. Saturday.