“Health trumps golf,” said IUP golf head coach Dan Braun. “Everyone just wants their teammates to healthy and safe.”
The IUP men’s golf team was in the midst of competing in the Cecil Spadafora invitational when they found out the news.
“I got a call from one of my players on Tuesday morning saying that three of our golfers didn’t feel well,” Braun said. “Our trainer talked with us about proper protocol. We sent them naturally to the health center, the whole team had gone out for dinner together. The entire team was asked to stay home until we got further details on the players who were not well. They did test positive for COVID-19.”
This news could not have come at a more inconvenient time for the Hawks. IUP was leading after the first round of the tournament by a slim one-stroke lead ahead of Shepherd University. In fact, they were in the midst of their lowest-scoring performance of the season before the news hit.
After finding out about the team’s initial exposure, it was determined that the entire team would need to withdraw for health and safety concerns.
Despite the event being IUP’s home invitational, teams were still able to compete after IUP’s withdrawal.
“It was determined that the contact was not close,” Braun said. “All schools were notified by their medical staff. With the nature of the game, there is reason to be cautious, they naturally don’t play close to each other.”
The final results of the tournament were, Shepherd taking the team victory with Bluefield State and Millersville following suit.
To worsen the situation, the Atlantic/East Regional tournament is roughly two weeks away. And with an entire team quarantined, where does that leave IUP?
“We are going to quarantine and follow protocol for all players who test positive for COVID-19,” Braun said. “If a player goes five days without testing positive, they will be allowed to return to compete.”
Luckily, this gives the Hawks enough time to get most of their team back, barring no one else testing positive. Even though this news would be hard for anyone to hear, this team took it in stride.
“I think they handle disappointment with grace and dignity,” Braun said. “We were leading the tournament with our lowest score. It would be easy to handle this situation differently. They understood the situation, and what we could and could not do. We just hope that everyone’s health is OK.
“I think now we will appreciate the opportunity we had to play all semester. Also, we can start to sympathize with those who have been in our position before. And will be in our position after. This has is happening at every level. Nobody is immune to having this issue with this virus.
“What’s difficult for us, another sports team can reschedule for other sports team. It’s a tournament, it is still going to happen without us or not. We don’t have that luxury of changing schedule.”
Braun and this squad will be hungry to make up for lost time at the Regional tournament on May 6 at the Lake View Country Club in Northeast, PA. Even though they might be down now, the Hawks are not out of the big tournament.