Leopards To Open Spring Season This Weekend In S.C.
March 17, 2006
EASTON, Pa. (www.lafayette.edu) - A number of seasoned upperclassmen coupled with the emergence of young talent will drive the Lafayette men's golf team this spring. Lafayette returns six letterwinners and welcomes seven newcomers to this year's club, which is under the guidance of head coach Jim Hutnik for the fourth season.
Topping the key returners for Lafayette is sophomore Brandon Mitchel (Port Jefferson, N.Y.), who enjoyed a solid rookie season with the third-best stroke average on the Leopards' roster. Behind graduates Jeremiah O'Neill and Garett Copp, Mitchel averaged 79.6, and posted a season-best 75 in the final day of the Navy Spring Invitational (4/17).
As the only senior on the 2006 squad, Hutnik will depend on Tom Palmer (Mahwah, N.J.) to provide leadership both on and off the course. Palmer has provided consistency over four years for Lafayette, and finished last year averaging 81.8 a round. He also contributed a solid fall season, appearing in the teams top two in seven of 11 rounds played.
Also providing upperclassman leadership will be juniors Billy Simmermacher (Scarsdale, N.Y.), Dave Rahal (Mahwah, N.J.) and Kyle Manjuck (Durham, Conn.). All three had quality showings in the fall and will be aiming for increased improvement. Simmermacher saw the most action in the fall, averaging an 82.6 over seven rounds.
Sophomores Pat Kelly (Rochester, N.Y.) and Clint Smith (Mechanicsburg, Pa.) are hoping to build on their rookie seasona, while classmate Chris Johnston (Delaware, Ohio) looks to contribute in his first year for the Leopards. Johnston topped the Leopards with team-best rounds twice during the fall.
Other newcomers under Hutnik include senior Brad Godette (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.) and freshmen Bobby Ayala (Kendall Park, N.J), Pat Gallagher (Pittsburgh, Pa.), Steven Melnic (Allentown, Pa.), Anoop Shah (Calabasas, Calif.) and Kenneth Suarez (Springfield, N.J.).
Shah averaged a team-best 77.7 in the fall, including earning top honors for the Leopards in both the Cornell Invitational and Mount St. Mary's Fall Invitational. Suarez also clocked significant time in the fall, seeing action in two invitationals and a pair of quad matches and averaging 80.8.
The Leopards 2005-06 schedule mirrors that of last season, as the spring opens with the team competing in the Lonnie Barton Memorial Invitational this weekend at Pinecrest Country Club in Bluffton, S.C.
The Leopards follow that road trip up with the team's home tournament on April 7-9. Easton's Center Valley Country Club will again host the Lafayette Invitational.
The next weekend, the Leopards hit the road again to try their luck at the Navy Spring Invitational held at the Naval Academy Country Club. Two days later, the Leopards will have the home course advantage, as the team competes in the Lehigh Valley Quad Match set to be held at Northampton Country Club.
The quad match will be the final tune-up before the Leopards head into the Patriot League Championship weekend, April 21-23. Navy will host the 2006 tournament, as the Leopards will play the Academy's course for the second time in less than two weeks.
For the second straight year, the league championship will not mark the end of the season for Lafayette. Rather, the team is slated to compete in the St. Peter's Peacock Invitational in Neshanic Station, N.J. and second quad match at Deal Country Club spanning the weekend of April 25-26.
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