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2017 SLIAC Golf Championship Preview

2017 SLIAC Golf Championship Preview

Spalding University will be looking to become just the second program in St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference history to win three straight SLIAC Championships. Maryville University is the only program to win three straight, doing so from 1999-2001. Spalding meanwhile is the two-time defending champion and have won three of the last four championships.

Individually look for Jon Hughes, Anthony Irwin, and Michael Neff to compete for the title. The trio all finished in the top ten last season with Hughes tying for fourth with a 225. Irwin was just two strokes back while Neff placed ninth last season and has twice in his career finished in the top ten at the SLIAC Championships.

Blackburn will come into the tournament playing their best golf of the season. The Beavers are coming off a third-place finish at the Illinois College McNaughton Invitational. As a team, they carry a 317.7 round average with three top-five finishes this season. Their low round of 304, set last week at the McNaughton Invitational, is the third lowest by a SLIAC team this season. Through six events this year Trenton Easley holds a team-best 78.6 stroke average. Easley has captured two Top 20 finishes. Keegan Easley has scored the lowest round for the Beavers this season, with a 73, and holds an 80.3 average. Kyle Kessinger carries an 80.9 average into the tournament and has finished in the Top 20 four times this year.

Eureka played in just one event this spring, the McNaughton, where they finished with a round of 343. Tyler Nelson led the Red Devils with a round of 81, placing in the Top 20. Koby White also shot in the 80's, with an 86.

Fontbonne holds a 338.3 stroke average as a team with a low round of 320. Goers paces the Griffins with an average of 83.3 strokes per round including a low of 77. Will Pruden shot a  team-best low round of 76 this season and holds an 83.8 average. Michael Kanan brings an average of 87.6 strokes per round into the tournament. Sam Kaminski will be in the three hole for the Griffins and has an average of 84.8 this season.

Greenville, in their first year of the program, holds a team average of 406.3 strokes per round. The Panthers have played a handful events this spring and have been led by Tyler Thorpe with a score of 86.7 strokes per round. The second and third spots in their lineup will be held down by Joshua Jackson and Ransom Cochrane.

Iowa Wesleyan has the second-best team average this season, a 315.4 average round. The Tigers have played 10 events this year, placing in the top five nine times with a SLIAC best low round of 290. The Tigers roster features four golfers that carry an average below 80 this year. Leading the way for the Tigers is Michael Neff. Neff holds a 76.5 average, with four top-five finishes and a season-low round of 71. Not too far off Neff is Kiley Miller with a 76.6 average and eight top 20 finishes. Bo Vitale brings a 77.9 average into the tournament and has shot a season-best round of 73.

MacMurray has placed in the top five in two of their eight events this year and bring a team average of 334.3 into the tournament. The Highlanders' Jacob Hierlmeier should pace the team with a 79.3 average. Hierlmeier has shot a team low round of 75 this year and twice placed in the top five and five times finished in the top 20. Zach Koonce (81.2) and Caleb Burk (83.0) are in the second and third positions of the Highlanders lineup.

Spalding's team score of 322.3 is the fourth lowest among SLIAC team this year. The Golden Eagles shot a season-low round of 305 and have placed in the top five of events twice. They are led by Anthony Irwin, who holds a 75.3 average. Irwin has three top five finishes and a season-best round of 70. Nestor Cidras, who has been limited to just four events this year, has an average of 77.7 and tied with Irwin for the team low round this season with a 70. Zach Herfel has an 81.8 average but can be a threat as seen with his season-best round of 74.

Webster has recorded the conference's best team average this year with a 304.0 mark. They have four top five finishes and are the top-ranked team according to the Golf State team rankings (67). The Gorloks best round this season was a 294 and feature a deep roster with five golfers averaging below an 80 this year. The Gorloks will look to Jon Hughes to set the pace for the team. Hughes, with a 74.7 stroke average, has three top-five finishes this year and a low round of 70. Zac Ciesla holds a 75.8 average and shot a team-best 69 earlier this season while Peter Conowall has a 77.6 average.

Westminster has had a light spring schedule and carries a 361.5 team average. The Blue Jays Will Braley holds an 89.2 average with a low round of 80 this season. Blake Harris has an average of 89.9 this season with one top 20 finish while Dustin Seibolt brings an average of 91.4 into the tournament.

This year's SLIAC Championship field will consist of nine schools from the conference and include Blackburn College, Eureka College, Fontbonne University, Greenville College, Iowa Wesleyan University, MacMurray College, Spalding University, Webster University, and Westminster College. The 2017 SLIAC Golf Championship will be held at Aberdeen Golf Course April 17-18.

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