You know how the old saying goes: “It’s not about how you start, but how you finish.”
That saying holds true for the IUP golf team. Despite some early season troubles, the Crimson Hawks are looking to move past that to compete for their 30th PSAC championship title in Hershey on Friday.
The IUP men's golf team was ranked third in the Atlantic Region rankings released March 30. In addition, six Crimson Hawks have top-25 individual rankings.
IUP has played in four tournaments this spring, all outside the region, including its fourth-place finish at The Trojan at Walnut Creek Country Club in Goldsboro, North Carolina, two weeks ago. The Hawks opened the season with a fifth-place finish at the Cherokee Valley Invitational in Tigerville, South Carolina, and tied for second at California University of Pennsylvania’s Crofton Invitational in Crofton, Maryland.
Things have been on the rise for the Hawks. On Tuesday, they travelled to the Penn Oaks Country club where they took second place out of twelve in the Dr. Edwin B. Cottrell Invitational.
The Hawks finished 11 strokes behind Shepard and had a couple golfers stand out. After a shaky first day where they finished in sixth, the Hawks stormed back to take second.
Jack Buccigross (junior, marketing) took third overall & Richie Klein (sophomore, finance) rounded out the top-10 in a three-way-tie for ninth place.
IUP had two more golfers finish in the top-25 in Shaun Fedor (sophomore, marketing) and Jeremy Eckenrode (graduate student, business) taking 13 and 25 respectively.
Regardless of any early-season struggles, the Hawks remain positive about their chances in the PSAC championships, especially following their bounce back performance on Tuesday.
“We haven’t played our best, but we are feeling hopeful as Hershey is a course, we are all familiar with,” Fedor said.
“We have shown improvement in each of our tournaments,” Eckenrode said. “We would obviously like to have won the events we have played in, but we are trying to peak for PSAC and the tournaments beyond. It’s been a very jam-packed schedule this spring, so we have been trying to adjust on the fly and try to get better at something each round we play.”
IUP will make the journey to Hershey on Friday, where they will compete with the best the PSAC has to offer.
The Hawks have had a lot of success in the championship round, winning three out of the last four championships.
Last year, IUP's top four scorers all finished in the top 10 individually, including Fedor, who earned medalist honors. Fedor finished in a three-way tie with a 10-over 223 before defeating West Chester's Chris Warner and Shepherd's Owen Elliott in a playoff. Fedor was IUP's 16th PSAC individual champion since 1993.
Senior Eckenrode finished two strokes back of the three-way tie at the top, shooting a 12-over 225 to finish fourth overall.
IUP is ready to make another deep run at the title yet again.
“Going to PSACs is special, and our goal going in each year is to win,” Eckenrode said. “We’ve been fortunate to have won the championship three of the last four years and are looking to do the same this year.”
If they want to be successful, this squad has to remain focused only on this event.
“We just need to play our games, and trust our process,” Fedor said. “We have the game to play great; we just need to believe it and commit ourselves.”
Only time will tell if the Hawks will be able to take their 30th championship title.
Regardless of the outcome, this squad has had to fight through a pandemic and compete despite unusual circumstances around sports as a whole. Hawk Nation, show your support.