- By Doug Harris Contributing Writer
Bryce Haney didn’t look like a future Division I college golfer while playing at Wayne High School. He didn’t pick up the game until his sophomore year and averaged just under 40 strokes for nine holes his last two seasons.
But Haney was driven to get to the next level and determined to find a school that would give him a shot.
“I sent a lot of emails to the coaches at Wright State. I didn’t get a response for a while. But I thought, I’m going to keep on emailing them and keep on emailing them,” he said.
“I’m pretty sure I emailed the majority of schools in the Horizon League. I even emailed the bigger schools like Michigan and Ohio State, which was farfetched. Wright State was the only school willing to give me a chance. I’m happy they did.”
Raiders coach Brian Arlinghaus is glad, too. But he probably wouldn’t have taken Haney if the player hadn’t been so persistent.
“He was constantly emailing me, saying, ‘Give me a chance.’ I figured if I meet with this guy, it’ll shut him up. He’ll stop emailing me,” Arlinghaus said with a chuckle.
“I met him, and I thought, ‘I kind of like the kid. There’s something in there.’”
Haney had the team’s second-best average at 75.4 as a redshirt freshman this spring and was named the Horizon League Freshmen of the Year after finishing in a tie for ninth at the conference meet at Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla., last month.
He’s the first Raider to win the award since Brandon Knutson in 2004. Haney also was named second-team all-league, while Wright State’s No. 1 player, senior Chris Rossi of Fairfield, earned first-team honors.
“Bryce is the same as Chris. You look at their golf swings and think, ‘Eh, there’s nothing there.’ Then you look at their scorecard and say, ‘Wow, how did that happen?’” Arlinghaus said.
“Bryce is the hardest worker we have and is not afraid to hold people accountable. For him to come on as a walk-on freshman and play at the level he’s playing is super special.”
Haney, who is now a scholarship player, wasn’t exactly thrilled with redshirting as a true freshman, but he believes he made a big jump as a player that year.
“I tell this to everybody: That redshirt year was the absolute best thing to happen to me. I got to see what it was like and got to develop a little bit more. That extra year was time for me to get better and grow as a person and get used to college life.”
Playing college golf is everything he dreamed it would be.
“I’ve always wanted to be a Division-I athlete. I just had a hunger for that ever since I knew what collegiate sports were. Getting to be a college student-athlete is not something a lot of people get to do. I love it,” he said.
Ashley Sharp, a senior from Lakota West, was named the Horizon League Pitcher of the Year. She finished the regular-season with a 13-17 record and 2.35 ERA.
Senior Honnah Susor (Oregon, Ohio), who leads the Raiders with a .327 average, was named first-team all-league for the third straight year, while Madison Whitacre (New Palestine, Ind.), who batted .235 and is tied for second on the team with 23 RBIs, made the all-freshman team.
The Raiders (20-30) are playing in the double-elimination league tourney at UIC. They opened with a 4-0 win over Northern Kentucky on Wednesday.
The Raiders (31-15, 18-6 Horizon League) begin a three-game series at Milwaukee this weekend, including a game at the Milwaukee Brewers’ Miller Park at 6 p.m. Saturday.
The Panthers have a 17-10 record in the stadium since first playing there in 2002.