Though the 2017-18 season for the St. Bonaventure University golf team officially kicks off this weekend with a trip to Hamilton, N.Y. and the first invitational of the season, competition for the team has already been in full swing.
With the deepest roster the Bonnies have boasted in years, several players entered qualifying rounds last week competing for spots in the lineup to open the fall campaign.
After three days of play on Bartlett Country Club and the Upper Course at Peek 'n Peak, the opening week lineup was set with a couple new faces. Senior Corey Long, the team's leader all last year, along with sophomores Nolan Ditcher and Zach Chaddock return while freshman Danny Gianniny and junior Dylan Glatz will play in the Bonnies lineup for the first time.
Glatz, who was with the team all of last year, won a spot with the second-lowest combined score through qualifying rounds including carding a 68 at Bartlett. Gianniny, who enjoyed a tremendous summer highlighted by a win in the International Junior Masters and also made the cut at the New York State Men's Amateur Championship, also adds to a roster that did not lose a single player who played a counting round last year.
"We certainly have competition this year," head coach Ryan Swanson said. "With that each player is held more accountable because I am comfortable making changes if need be. In the past, I don't feel like I had the flexibility to switch things up without taking a step backwards. I hope this is the driving force to get guys practicing harder and focusing more, which will hopefully benefit the team."
Long finished last year with an average score of 75.13, best on the team, and was named a Srixon/Cleveland Golf All-America Scholar for his success on the links and in the classroom. He claimed five top-15 finishes last season and figures to lead the team again this fall.
"Corey is a great leader and is very focused going into his last year," Swanson said. "I hope his work ethic, knowledge and experience wear off on some of these younger guys because his preparation and determination is second-to-none."
Both Chaddock and Ditcher made immediate impacts in their first seasons of college golf, each taking Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week honors at different points of the year.
Chaddock played in all 12 tournaments as a freshman with an average score of 77.31 and played very well in the Atlantic 10 Championship, posting the low score on the team after finishing the tournament with a career-best round of 69. Ditcher, meanwhile, came on during the spring as one of the team's top players and registered an average spring season score of 76.92. He also had the team's lowest combined score during last week's qualifying rounds.
"Nolan and Zach are the backbone of our team and future," Swanson said. "They are incredibly mature, hardworking and excellent teammates. We look for big things from them this year."
The talent for the Bonnies doesn't stop there.
Senior Patrick Sheerer also returns and has been a regular member of the lineup throughout his career. The Atlantic 10 All-Academic Team selection in 2016-17 played in 11 tournaments last year with an average score of 77.55 including matching the program's all-time low round of 66 during the fall.
Juniors Matt Abendroth and Brent Morgan also have extensive tournament experience – Abendroth competed in seven tournaments as a freshman and 10 last season as he turned in an average score of 77.69. Morgan played in eight events as a freshman and all 12 last season, compiling a season average of 77.13.
The depth of this year's roster coupled with the fact that the team is fresh off its best season in recent memory has high hopes around the program this fall. A year ago, the Bonnies captured two team wins and three top-two finishes and showed flashes of being able to compete with some of the top teams in the region during the season.
"Confidence is high coming off some really good qualifying rounds last weekend in difficult conditions," said Swanson, who is again assisted by graduate assistant coach Josh Stauffer. Our goal going into every event is to get in a position to contend on the last nine holes of the tournament. Hopefully that confidence shows in those situations and we come out on top."
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