Kenyon’s golf team played the first of two weekend matchups in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) championship tournament last weekend at Allegheny College (Meadville, Pa.), finishing the first series in fourth place behind Wittenberg University, Allegheny College and DePauw University.
The Lords entered the NCAC finals after a season of ups and downs. The ups included two first place finishes, with one below par tally in the BSN Fall Invitational, while the downs consisted of a disappointing 26th-place finish in the Jekyll Island Collegiate Invitational, just one month before the finals.
“We were playing some solid golf at the end of the fall semester with a couple first place finishes, but the break seemed to disrupt our game,” Sadiq Jiwa ’18 said. “We have struggled to find our groove this spring.”
On the par 72, 6,687-yard course in Meadville, the Lords found themselves struggling to find their groove again, with no member of the team finishing par and two shooting an 80 or higher.
“Our first round was not our best,” Jiwa said, “but we needed to put it behind us and focus on our golf and finding our game.”
The second day of the weekend saw Kenyon shoot six strokes better, and move up the score sheet from fifth to fourth. Mason McCool ’17, who shot an even par with three birdies and three bogeys, finishing nine strokes better on his Sunday scorecard, led the overall improvement effort. Patrick Kawakami ’20 and Jiwa also improved their scores on the following day, shooting two strokes and one stroke better, respectively.
Individually, the Lords have their work cut out for themselves to move up the leaderboard. Wittenberg, which is in first place, has all five of their scoring players in the top-10 for total score and is occupying the first, second and third place slots. In these three slots are the only players, of the pack of 45, who are below par for the tournament. Kenyon, on the other hand, finds themselves in the middle of the pack, with a spread from their best performer, Ryan Muthiora ’18, ranked T-11 to Kawakami, ranked T-27. Each player for the Lords needs to shoot better next weekend for their desired top-two finish.
As a team, the Lords find themselves trailing first place Wittenberg by a distant 40 strokes, but within striking distance of Allegheny and DePauw, which are both just eight strokes ahead of Kenyon.
“We can’t focus on the other teams right now,” Jiwa said. “We just need to put our heads down, focus on our game and chip away at the lead. If we focus on our game, then anything is possible, even first place. I mean, the Patriots did beat the Falcons.”
The Lords look to emulate the Patriots’ Super Bowl comeback this weekend, April 28 and 29, when the final rounds of the NCAC championship continue at rival Denison University.