The Webster University men's golf season came to a close here Wednesday afternoon as the Gorloks closed out play in the 2019 NCAA Division III Championships by finishing in a tie for 32nd place out of 42 teams with a team score of 638 for 36 holes at the Keene Trace Golf Club.
Webster, who made its third consecutive appearance in the NCAA Division III Men's Golf National Championships this year, carded a second round score of 314 to improve by 10 shots from its first-round score on Tuesday of 324. In Wednesday's second round, the Gorloks played the 6,897-yard Keene Run course after playing the 7,190-yard Champion Trace course in the opening round.
With their performance, Webster missed the cut for the final 18 teams by 18 shots as Aurora, who the Gorloks played with on Tuesday and Wednesday, and Saint Thomas (Minn.) each carded 44-over 620's as a team for 36 holes to advance to the final two rounds of the championships. Among the teams missing the cut along with Webster was No. 1 ranked Emory, who fired rounds of 321 and 303 to finish in 23rd place with a team score of 624, No. 7 ranked Southwestern (Texas), who fired rounds of 302 and 323 to finish in a tie for 25th place with a score of 625 for 36 holes and eighth-ranked Washington & Lee, who shot rounds of 312 and 310 to finish in a tie for 19th place with a 622 team score for 36 holes.
After 36 holes of play, Illinois Wesleyan holds a four-shot lead over Guilford College as the Titans shot a second round of 3-over 291 to sit atop the leaderboard with a 2-over par 578 as a team. Guilford shot a 2-under par 286 on Wednesday and has carded a 6-over 582 to sit in second place, while Wittenberg shot a 4-over 292 on Wednesday to move into third place after carding an 11-over 587 for 36 holes.
Leading the way for the Gorloks on Wednesday was junior Zac Ciesla (Lake Charles, La./Alfred M. Barbe) as he followed up his opening round 85 with a 2-over par 74 on Wednesday. Despite his strong play on Wednesday, Ciesla finished the tournament in a tie for 121st place as he carded a 15-over 159 for 36 holes. On Wednesday, Ciesla finished with 12 pars, three birdies, two bogeys and a double-bogey on his scorecard.
Webster's top overall finisher in the tournament was sophomore Will Hocker (Grapevine, Texas/University of Oklahoma) as he followed up his opening round 78 with a 79 in Wednesday's final round to push its 36 hole score to 13-over 157 as he finished in a tie for 102nd place. In Wednesday's second round, Hocker, who was named a Division III PING All-Central Region selection for the second straight year at Tuesday night's Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) Banquet, had 11 pars, three birdies, two bogeys and recorded back-to-back triple bogeys on holes 6 and 7.
Hocker and the rest of his teammates began their round on Wednesday at Keene Run course on the No. 10 hole and finished on the ninth hole. Along with playing with Aurora, Webster also played the first two rounds with Stevenson University, who shot 662 as a team to finish in 39th place overall. Stevenson carded back-to-back rounds of 331.
On the individual leaderboard, Wittenberg's Cameron Willis and Methodist's Zane Brownrigg hold the lead after 36 holes as each them have shot a 2-under par 142. Willis and Brownrigg each shot even-par 72's in Tuesday's first round, before each shooting 2-under par 70's on Wednesday. There are six golfers in a logjam for third place at 1-under par 143. Through the first 36 holes of the tournament, only nine golfers have shot par or better at Keene Trace Golf Club.
The top 18 teams and six individuals not on one of those 18 teams qualified for the final 36 holes of the NCAA Division III National Championships, which will be played on both Thursday and Friday on the Champion Trace course at Keene Trace Golf Club.
In addition to Ciesla and Hocker, senior Will Murphy (Staunton, Ill./Mount Olive) closed out his collegiate career by shooting a second round score of 9-over par to push his 36 holes total to a 15-over 159 to finish in a tie for 121st place. Murphy and Hocker were Webster's leaders after the opening round as he carded 6-over par 78's. In Wednesday's round, Murphy recorded 11 pars, six bogeys and a triple bogey on his scorecard. Murphy's 81 as tied for his fourth-highest round of the season as he shot over 80 just seven times in 22 rounds this season.
Sophomore Mitchell Vetter (Colleyville, Texas/Grapevine) fired a second round score of 8-over par 80 to push his 36 hole total to a 19-over par 163 as he finished in a tie for 152nd place. Vetter opened the tournament by shooting an 83 in Tuesday's first round. In Wednesday's round, Vetter recorded eight pars, two birdies, six bogeys and a two double bogeys on his scorecard and he played his final holes of the tournament at even-par as he shot an even-par 36 on the front nine of the Keene Run course.
Webster's final finisher was junior Cole Pickett (Greenville, Ill./Keiser University) as he followed up his opening round 86 with an 87 in Wednesday's second round to finish in a tie for 199th place with a 173 for 36 holes. The 87 was Pickett's second highest round of the season and marked just the sixth time he shot over 80 in a round this year. On Wednesday, Pickett recorded eight pars, seven bogeys, a double bogey, and two triple bogeys. In addition, Pickett closed the round by playing the final four holes (6-9) at 6-over par.
The Gorloks qualified for the NCAA Division III National Championships for the third consecutive season and seventh time in school history after taking home the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship for the third straight year on April 22-23 as they won the title by a conference record 73 shots over Fontbonne at WeaverRidge Golf Club in Peoria, Ill. During the season, Webster won three tournament titles and finished in the Top 5 in three other events. Along with winning the SLIAC Championships, Webster also took home first place honors during the fall season at the Culver's Edgewood College Fall Classic and the Dan Quayle Collegiate Classic.
Webster, who is coached Andrew Belsky, returns four of the five golfers that competed at this year's NCAA Division III National Championships in 2019-20.
STORY COURTESY OF WEBSTER UNIVERSITY SPORTS INFORMATION