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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Golf team ready to surprise at Monmouth

While Tiger Woods’ misfortunes may dominate the national headlines and even an appearance in the S&B, the Grinnell Men’s Golf team has had plenty of misfortune of their own. Injuries, theft and historically low numbers have all plagued the team. However, the Pioneers will attempt to put all that behind them when they travel to the Fighting Scot-Prairie Fire invitational—their final tournament before the Midwest Conference Championship—hosted by Monmouth College and Knox College at noon on Friday in Monmouth, Ill.

“This weekend we get to play against the top [conference] teams on the same course and see how we stack up the week before conference,” Ian Luby ’13 said.

This tournament is especially important because it will be the first time that the team will face some of their MWC opponents such as Monmouth and Knox. But the focus isn’t on those other teams—instead Head Coach Brian Jaworski expects his team to focus on the team’s success.

“It’s going to be fun to see how we stack up against Monmouth and Knox on their home turf,” Jaworski wrote in an e-mail. “But the truth is that no team will have any effect on how we play this weekend. My expectations for our team this weekend are the same for any team I coach—get yourself mentally ready to compete, stay in the moment and play to win. I know my guys and they’ll be ready.”

Jaworski’s confidence is rooted in the Pioneers’ performance throughout the season. With their team score of 301 in their victory in the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) Invitational, the Pioneers proved that they could shoot with the best schools in the area. The Pioneers hovered under the 320 mark for rest of the season, but have steadily chipped away at that number. It was the first team championship in over 20 years and the victory did a lot to reshape the mentality of the team.

“No one can take away from us what this team has overcome this spring—van being stolen, clubs gone, sickness, MCL injury (Peter Marsho [’12]), toe injury (Nathan Clubb [’11]), our home driving range closed all Spring,” Jaworski wrote. “But not one single team member complains, feels sorry for themselves, or looks to find an excuse for the days we wish we would have played a little better.”

“Now that we’ve done it, it’s like this isn’t just a hope—it’s something that we can legitimately do,” Ethan Kenvarg ’12 said. “I wouldn’t say it’s an expectation, but…there’s no reason for us not to and if we just concentrate and play well, it could happen. And everyone on the team is feeling that and that vibe is really good.”

Last weekend, in the Buena Vista Invite, the team placed 12th out of 24 teams with scores of 317 on the first day and 316 on the second, but they did so without Kenvarg or Marsho. Kenvarg, whose clubs were stolen over Spring Break, recently recovered his clubs and will be able to play this weekend. Marsho also recovered from his MCL tear enough to join the Pioneers at Monmouth.

“I’m just hoping to go out there and get a feel for tournament golf again and being competitive,” Kenvarg said. “On everyone’s mind is how the other opponents in our conference are doing—what numbers are they putting up, how are we competing with that—but I think we’re coming into it now with a mindset of how are we doing as a team…and that’s going to allow us to focus on our game, every stroke, taking it easy. ”

Kenvarg attributes the success that this team experienced this season to a strong year last year combined with stronger team mentality—something that Coach Jaworski began emphasizing very early this year.

“We lost a lot of people at the start of the year, we had a talk and Coach Jaws said that one of the big weaknesses on our team was that we weren’t a team,” Luby said. “And this year, with this being the senior’s last chance, Carlos [Lu ’10] and Pete [Kieselbach ’10] are really working to make it a team and it’s working.”

But perhaps the most important aspect of this tournament will be to tune this team up one last time before the MWC Tournament. But Jaworski believes that after everything that has happened this season, his team will be ready, as individuals and as a group.

“We are right where we want to be heading into the MWC Tournament,” Jaworksi wrote. “We’re battle tested, we’re strong together, we know we can do it, and we have something to prove.“

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