WLU Golf finishes 2nd in Nancy Nichols Fall Invitational

After finishing second in the Mountain East Conference (MEC) championships, the men’s golf team headed to Florida to play in the Nancy Nichols Fall Invitational on Oct. 11 and Oct. 12.

The tournament was made up of eight different colleges and many of whom had more experience playing this course. The Hilltoppers had never played this course so they did have a clear disadvantage. With all these obstacles to overcome, the Hilltoppers still impressed by finishing in second place only behind an NAIA powerhouse in the form of Southeastern University. In the preseason coaches poll, the Southeastern golf team was voted the number seven team in the nation for NAIA.

The Hilltoppers finished 11 strokes better than the third-place team. Although Southeastern headlined the competition, the Hilltoppers faced off against other dominant foes and showed just how good the Hilltoppers can be.

Freshman Noah Seivertson liked what he saw out of his team at the tournament. “I felt like the team had one of our best performances in Florida, we played some really good teams, and we were able to compete and get second place,” said Seivertson.

The first day the team played two rounds of golf for a grueling total of 36 holes. After the first 18 holes, the Hilltoppers were sitting in third place with a total of 294 strokes. The second-place team, St. Thomas University had 293 and the first-place team, Southeastern had 285. The second round saw West Liberty take possession of second place by scoring a total of 295 shots while St. Thomas dropped a spot with a score of 301. Southeastern padded their lead with a score of 281.

The second and final day of the tournament the Hilltoppers looked to hold the second place spot and hopefully try to catch the dominant Southeastern squad. The final round saw the Hilltoppers finish with 297 strokes, while St. Thomas carded a 303. Southeastern stayed hot and finished with 290 strokes. The final round saw Southeastern shoot an incredible three round total of 8 shots under par. The Hilltoppers finished 22 strokes over par for second place with a comfortable lead. St. Thomas tied for third place with Webber International with 33 over.

Junior Alex Easthom was happy with the team’s performance. “The team did a great job. It was a tough and long trip. We all were extremely tired so to play as well as we did was great” said Easthom.

Individually, West Liberty had four of their five golfers in the top 20 places in the whole tournament and all five golfers were in the top 25.

Easthom led West Liberty with a five over par total for the three rounds. He claimed an overall ninth place finish. Behind Easthom, Howie Peterson IV and Derek Graham both finished nine over par and tied for 14th place. Seivertson finished 10 over par and tied for 18th place. Bo Orecchio finished 11 over par and claimed 21st place.

With one more remaining tournament in the fall season, the Hilltoppers hope to claim a spot in the regional tournament. Since the Hilltoppers did not win the Mountain East Conference Tournament, they will have to receive a bid based on their record and the competition they’ve faced. From the season that the Hilltoppers have had so far, the team fully expects to be playing in the regional tournament come the spring. Not only do they think they will be playing in the region, they feel that they can turn the tables and make a run at winning the whole tournament. “I think we have a really good chance [at winning the regional tournament]. We’ve competed with every team in our region” said Peterson.

Easthom said the key to the team making a run at the regional tournament is to continue to work hard and improve every week just as the team has done all year.

West Liberty will next participate in the Shriner’s Hospital for Kids Invitational in Ravenswood, W.Va. on Oct. 23 and 24.