Men’s Golf: One shot back from lead heading into Spring

Josh Kienz is tied for the lead in the Empire 8 Golf Championships heading into the spring portion of the schedule.

Laurel Simer

Josh Kienz is tied for the lead in the Empire 8 Golf Championships heading into the spring portion of the schedule.

Emily Joss, Sports Editor

Just two weeks prior to the Empire 8 Fall Championship tournament, the Utica College men’s golf team teed off on Sept. 16 for the first time since the conclusion of their spring 2021 championship season.

The tournament, held at Yahnundasis Golf Club in New Hartford, was the only time the team found themselves on the course during the fall season before entering the E8 championship last weekend. 

Following a strong 2020-2021 season in which the program made their NCAA tournament debut, head coach Brian Marcantonio had much to look forward to, but saw little of his team’s talent due to COVID-19 related cancellations of the team’s other scheduled tournaments.

“The biggest thing for us is just going to be playing through a little bit of rust,” Marcantonio said. “It’s tough to replicate the pressures of tournament golf in a practice environment.” 

As it was, the rust was shaken off with ease as the team finished their first and only invitational this fall season in third place, with senior Joe Miga winning the tournament as the individual medalist, shooting five over par (76). 

The pressure of tournament golf continued to be of little applicability to many of the team’s members as the E8 tournament rolled around. 

Even with a bullseye on their backs as reigning champions, Miga, as well as graduate student Josh Keinz (last year’s champion), senior Nick Visconti and sophomore Adam Woodmansee found themselves at the top of their game and the leaderboards following the second round of the tournament. 

Following a consistent two-day performance that totaled 154 strokes, Keinz comfortably placed himself at the top as co-leader of the tournament at ten over par. Woodmansee, Visconti and Miga sit close behind at fourth, fifth, and eighth respectively.

Graduate student Brett Everson, a member of the golf and hockey teams, also found himself in 32nd at the end of the two-day tournament. 

Making his debut in conference championships is sophomore Blake Holmes, who is also a member of Utica College’s men’s ice hockey team. Holmes’ game required a mindset transition in preparation for championship golf.

“Although I am still a part of a team, I am also on an island because I’m alone in a match with really no one to help me,” Holmes said. “Every drive, chip and putt is based on what you feel is appropriate at that time, so it all falls on you.”

Even with pressure like that resting on his shoulders, Holmes still found himself finishing the second round of tournament play in 35th. More importantly though, he is feeling much more confident heading into the spring season. 

“I learned new things that will help me prepare and get through more rounds in the spring, but also in the years to come,” Holmes said. “Thinking out certain shots and trying to play the best I can with what I am given are just a few examples of what being on the course taught me over the weekend.”

Evidently, the team has the depth they need to come out on top following the spring portion of the tournament. 

Looking forward to concluding their season in the spring, the team is one shot away – 629 (320-309) from becoming back-to-back Empire 8 champions as St. John Fisher – 628 (311-317) leads heading into the spring portion of the tournament.

The final 36 holes of the 2021-22 Empire 8 Men’s Golf Championship will take place on Friday, April 15 and Saturday, April 16 at Hershey Country Club in Hershey, PA.

Much like the rest of the team, Marcantonio is eager for April to come around. 

He added: “We’re excited for spring and are hoping to be back in NCAAs for the second time in program history.”