As the fall season for the Castleton men’s golf team swings into action, the team has quite a different look this season with a handful of new faces added to the roster.
After losing key contributors from the team last year with the likes of Nick Ojala and Brandon Picard, the new look Spartans still have two of their top four golfers returning for this season with juniors, Brady Hathorn and Andrew Stefura.
Coming off a year where they finished top three in seven of the 12 tournaments they competed in with two number one finishes, the team looks to follow that up with the experience that has been passed down from the players they lost to graduation.
“It’s not easy replacing guys like Ojala and Picard, but having played with them last year and being around them during practice rounds, they taught everyone a lot about what it takes to be successful at the NCAA level,” said sophomore Zack Whittaker.
“We have two returners from last year and will rely on Brady Hathorn and Andrew Stefura as our leaders,” said head coach Brian Hill.
Hathorn last season averaged 79 while Stefura averaged an 82.
“I have been practicing a lot with Brady this year and he is stripping the ball and hammering putts,” said Stefura.
Preparation for the season began before the team even got to campus and throughout the summer. New and returning player prepared all summer to tee off this fall.
“Our returners have been working on their games all summer and are prepared to step up this season. We are going to miss Nick and Brandon from their skills on the course and their leadership off the course, but we have a lot of new talent in the mix this season that will be key members to the squad,” Stefura said.
“We do have some new players that are playing well. It is a battle each week to see who will be going to tournaments. The competition for those spots is a great motivator for the players to work on their games and the scores in qualifying shows their work ethic. The scores are getting better every day. We will grind it out and the guys have that mindset,” Hill said.
The team had its first tournament this year at Stowe Country Club for the VTSU Johnson Invitational and placed fourth out of six. Out of the last nine years at this tournament, the team has won it six times.
During the tournament, Whittaker and Hathorn both shot 80, Stefura shot an 84, junior Zach Papapetros shot a 90, and junior Stephen Coffey had a 94 for team score of 334.
This past weekend the Spartans played in the Duke Nelson Invitational in Middlebury, VT. The invitational was kicked off on Saturday with a team score of 326 with Papapetros leading the Spartan with a 79. On Sunday the team was led by Stefura with a 78 and Whittaker with a 79. The Spartans finished the invitational with a team score of 650 through both days and placing 23rd.
On the horizon the team has another 6 tournaments through the rest of the fall semester in which they will aim to top their team scores from last year.