The Valparaiso University men’s golf team continued its strong season this week at the Wright State Invitational, which concluded on Monday with the squad finishing as the runner-up in a 17-team field. Sophomore Caleb VanArragon (Blaine, Minn. / Blaine) earned individual medalist honors in an 87-player event at the par-71, 7075-yard Heatherwoode Golf Club in Springboro, Ohio, helping the team enter the Missouri Valley Conference Championship on a high note.
How It Happened
- VanArragon posted a 68 (-3) on the final day of competition, making up a five-stroke deficit on Wright State’s Austin Schoonmaker in Round 3 while elevating from fourth to first. Both VanArragon and Schoonmaker finished the tournament at 210 (-3), and the Valpo sophomore received medalist honors based on a scorecard tiebreaker off Monday’s round. VanArragon went 69-73-68 over the three-round event.
- Valpo tied for the best Round-3 score in the 17-team field at 291 (+7), finishing the tournament at 886 (+34). The Brown & Gold finished behind only host Wright State (873, +21) on the team leaderboard, edging Ohio on a tiebreaker for the runner-up distinction.
- Freshman Alex Heck (Greenwood, Ind. / Center Grove) turned in a strong round, carding a 72 (+1) to finish the tournament at 223 (+10, t-14), the second Valpo golfer in the top 15.
- Drew Alexander (McCordsville, Ind. / Hamilton Southeastern) posted a 226 (75-75-76) to finish tied for 25th.
- Freshman Mason Bonn (Sherwood, Ore. / Sherwood) carded a 75 in the final round to help a balanced effort by the Brown & Gold.
Inside the Round
- In his last three tournaments, VanArragon has been either the runner-up or the individual medalist, all in fields of 70 golfers or more.
- VanArragon’s 68 on Monday matched his career low. This marked the fourth time this season he has posted a round of 68.
- The Valpo sophomore earned his first career individual medalist honor and his eighth career top-10 finish. This marked the fourth time in seven events this season that he finished in the top five.
- Valpo finished second in the tournament in par-4 scoring, averaging 4.25 on par-4 holes. The team accrued 33 birdies and 157 pars over the three rounds.
- VanArragon was at the forefront of the par-4 success, posting the second-best average on those holes at 3.94. VanArragon produced 11 birdies, tied for the second most in the field.
Thoughts from Head Coach Dave Gring
“I’ve been very pleased with our team preparation and the guys being ready to play when the tournaments start. While having a couple great weeks of practice leading into this weekend’s tournament didn’t necessarily predict any outcome, our guys were showing a lot of confidence in their swings and we had a good plan in place. The guys really played sharp all weekend and managed the course very well.”
“I thought our shot execution was strong in the first and third rounds. While we really struggled with our shot execution in the second round, the guys didn’t get discouraged, kept battling throughout the round and played hard, even in the windy conditions. We knew we had an opportunity to finish the tournament well. The guys stuck to our plan and the steady ball-striking was clearly evident in today’s final round.”
“This was the third consecutive tournament that we had an opportunity to finish at the top of the leaderboard and it was another tremendous confidence boost for the entire team. Alex really drove the ball well; his irons were sharp into the greens and we saw some strong improvement in his putting. Drew was a model of consistency for us and he hit a lot of greens and fairways throughout the three rounds. Mason had a good final round for us today and Jack gave us the boost we needed in the first round. Even though Jack’s score was tossed out today, we needed it for the tiebreaker. Every player on the team contributed to this spirited weekend of competition and that is so gratifying to each one of our players.”
“Our team could not be happier and more thrilled for Caleb and his first individual medalist finish at Valpo. He has been knocking on that door a lot over the past year, and he has certainly earned it. Caleb really puts a lot of work into practice, both with our team and on his own. His work ethic is tremendous and his ball-striking has been exceptional this entire spring. He knows his club distances very well, he manages the golf course in a studious way and he controls his emotions well during every round. He is playing his best golf of the season and it is coming at the perfect time of year.”
Valpo will compete in the MVC Championship on Monday, April 26 and Tuesday, April 27 in Flossmoor, Ill. A link to live scoring via GolfStat will be available on ValpoAthletics.com.