Valparaiso University men’s golf sophomore Caleb VanArragon (Blaine, Minn. / Blaine) was recognized for his excellence both in competition and in the classroom on Tuesday as he earned All-Missouri Valley Conference accolades in addition to garnering the league’s prestigious Elite 17 Award for his academic performance. VanArragon’s honors came after his top-5 individual showing helped Valpo finish fourth on the team leaderboard in the MVC Championship, hosted by Loyola at the par-72, 7070-yard Flossmoor Country Club in Flossmoor, Ill.
How It Happened
- VanArragon carded a 75 (+3) in the third and final round of the event, finishing with a 54-hole score of 224 (+8) to place fifth. He was two strokes behind fourth and just three strokes in back of a tie for runner-up honors. Loyola’s Devin Johnson was the individual conference champion at 216 (E), helping the Ramblers pull off a surprise team title at 895 after being picked fifth in the pre-championship poll.
- Senior Drew Alexander (McCordsville, Ind. / Hamilton Southeastern) had a team-best 72 (E) in the third and final round.
- Junior Garrett Willis (Fort Wayne, Ind. / Homestead) had his best round of the tournament with a 76 (+4) on Tuesday, moving into the top 20 overall at 18th and climbing to second on the team.
- Senior Brett Seward (Aurora, Ill. / Aurora Christian) tied for third on the team and finished at t-22 with a 235, the same score produced by freshman Mason Bonn (Sherwood, Ore. / Sherwood).
Inside the Round
- VanArragon finished the season with a 72.59 scoring average, narrowly missing his own program record for single-season scoring average of 72.57 set last season.
- Willis finished the season with a 74.00 scoring average, edging his career best from last season of 74.10 by a narrow margin. Willis’ scoring average from this year now ranks seventh in program history.
- Through this season, VanArragon and Willis rank first and second in program history in career scoring average at 72.58 and 74.24, respectively. Peter Webb is third at 74.26.
- Valpo finished the season with a team scoring average of 296.50, second in program history behind only the school-record 296.2 from 2014-15.
- The top-5 finish at the MVC Championship was VanArragon’s fifth top-5 performance this season, helping him earn all-conference honors for the second straight year.
- VanArragon became the third Valpo student-athlete to earn Elite 17 recognition since the University joined the Missouri Valley Conference. He joins Eric Carothers of men’s cross country and Keegan Maris of women’s soccer as Valpo’s Elite 17 winners, with all three of those coming this year. The Elite 17 Award for men’s golf to the student-athlete with the highest grade point average among top finishers at the MVC Championship.
Thoughts from Head Coach Dave Gring
“It's always a challenge for both coaches and players to see a season come to an end. Both groups put so much time and effort into all that is demanded and sometimes the finish line comes pretty quickly. It’s hard to believe the season has concluded, but we played eight tournaments this year and this team provided one of our best seasons. I look at all this team endeavored and accomplished this year, especially with the challenges of COVID, and our coaching staff could not be prouder and more pleased with the performances of our players.”
“We had some aggressive goals coming into the championship and the team was playing with a lot of momentum and a quiet confidence. Within each spring tournament, we had seen progress in our preparation and results. We felt like we had a good plan in place for attacking the golf course the past couple of days. We didn’t realize how fast and firm the greens were going to play and the 20-30mph winds made the conditions very challenging. Overall, the team played the first and final rounds pretty solid, but the second round really set us back from the leaders.”
“Drew had a magnificent final round for us today, shooting even par. He had the fourth lowest score of the afternoon and it was a terrific finish to his college career. Jack stepped in for us in the second round yesterday and gave us a great effort in providing a spark for our team. Mason had two +5 rounds for us and really played hard in his freshman campaign. Garrett improved in each of his three rounds and he finished the second half of the tournament playing very well. Brett got us out of the gates quickly in the first round and he had an impressive +1 in the wind-swept first round.”
“Caleb's ball-striking was tremendous the entire tournament, and it was challenging for him to post birdies. He’s one of our best birdie producers on the team and he could only muster six of them over the three rounds. That provides an indication as to how challenging the course was playing. He really managed the golf course well and he just kept battling the elements like the rest of the team. Caleb received a lot of hardware after the conclusion of the tournament and our team could not be more happy for him and the season he put together.”