Golf Season Preview
After four consecutive SCIAC Championships and a Top 5 finish at the 2010 NCAA Championships, the University of La Verne golf team sets its sights for yet another outstanding campaign in 2011.
Though the Leopards lost 2009 Jack Nicklaus Award Winner and two-time All-America Mitch Fedorka to graduation, head coach Eric Riehle believes his team has the components to once again be a force in the SCIAC and on the national scene.
The Leopards return senior Eric Bunge, who enjoyed a solid junior season and an impressive fall campaign. In October, Bunge set records for both 36 and 54-hole totals in leading La Verne to victory at the CMS Invitational.
After missing the 2010 season, senior Andrew Kramer returns to the Leopard roster for 2011. A 2009 First Team All-America and a two-time First Team All-SCIAC selection, Kramer was instrumental in the Leopards' runner-up finish at the 2009 NCAA Championships.
The tandem of Bunge and Kramer at the front of the Leopard lineup gives Riehle a powerful duo that is one of the best in Division III. "Andrew and Eric stand out as obvious choices to lead our team this year," said Riehle. "They are proven competitors as All-SCIAC returnees and they both have high expectations for this season."
The Leopards enjoy tremendous depth and have players who are poised to make an impact. "We have a solid group of players on this team and I think that it is our depth that will be a key factor as the season progresses," said Riehle.
Among them are seniors Kevin Smith and Matt Bernal who enjoyed solid seasons in 2010. Additionally the junior class of Andrew Roque, Nick Ericson and Tony Reed should show consistency throughout the season. Throw in freshmen Josh Haynes and Mike Rossum, and the Leopards are well positioned to repeat the success of recent years.
As evidenced by the Leopards' fall campaign with included an impressive victory at the CMS Invitational in October, this spring could once again be a championship season.
The Leopards once again look to compete near the top of the region and national rankings, but are also wary of the strength within the SCIAC. The challenge begins February 14 at the SCIAC #1 at Redlands Country Club.
La Verne will be challenged for supremacy atop the conference with the likes of Redlands, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps among the perennial contenders. "The SCIAC is poised to be the toughest conference in Division III, having five teams currently ranked in the Top 25," said Riehle. "This combined with our difficult non-conference schedule will prepare us for another run at a NCAA National Championship."