A record-setting rookie season for freshman men’s golfer Caleb VanArragon (Blaine, Minn./Blaine) culminated Tuesday with one of the conference’s highest honors, as VanArragon was named the 2020 MVC Newcomer of the Year. VanArragon also represented Valpo as one of five golfers on the MVC All-Conference Team.
"I remember walking the first few holes with Caleb at our first tournament in New York this past September,” said Valpo head coach David Gring. “He was off to a good start and commented to me, ‘Coach, I'm really enjoying this Division I experience!’ He finished that first collegiate round at two under par and went on to set our single-season scoring record, especially impressive for a freshman to accomplish.”
VanArragon stood out immediately during his freshman season, putting together a consistent campaign which resulted in the rookie posting a scoring average of 72.57 to set the program’s single-season record by over seven-tenths of a stroke. Along the way, VanArragon led Valpo in five out of its seven tournaments and shot par or better in 12 of 21 rounds. He carded four top-10 finishes in 2019-20, highlighted by a second-place finish out of 75 golfers at the Zach Johnson Invitational and a third-place showing out of 99 competitors at the Invitation at Savannah Harbor, the latter pacing the Brown and Gold as Valpo claimed the team title at the event.
“His work ethic is exemplary, spending quality practice time on the areas of his game that need the most attention,” said Gring. “Caleb always comes to practices and tournaments with a tremendous attitude and motivation, and he's just a lot of fun to be around. He fit in with our team very well, transitioning well to college golf right from the start.”
VanArragon ended the year ranked third in the MVC in scoring average, both overall and in relation to par. Twice during the season, VanArragon claimed MVC Golfer of the Week Accolades – Sept. 4, after he paced Valpo in his first career tournament, and Feb. 19, following his third-place individual finish and Valpo’s team title at the Invitation at Savannah Harbor.
“Besides Caleb's performance on the golf course, he finished his freshman year with a perfect 4.0 GPA in Christ College – Valpo’s Honors College,” said Gring. “When you take a look at the commitment that it takes to fulfill that curriculum and the amount of time that Caleb spends in practice and traveling with the team, it was a tremendous year for him. Our entire team is elated that Caleb received this well-deserved recognition!”
VanArragon is the first Valpo men’s golfer to earn a major award following his rookie season since Peter Webb was named the 2014 Horizon League Freshman of the Year. He is also Valpo’s first All-Conference honoree since the program joined the MVC in 2017-18.