by Max Carter
With six seniors on the Whitworth men’s golf team and three for the women, an unusually large group will look to finish off a superb four years.
The Senior Six
When Whitworth head golf coach Warren Friedrichs entered the recruiting season in the spring of 2012, he didn’t expect the talent of the commits that the men’s golf team received. Since then, one member graduated, while another made the decision to focus on academics.
With a roster bolstered by six seniors, five of which have experience in the D-III national championship, the Pirates will look to put the finishing touches on an eventful four years.
The senior six, consisting of Austin Billeter, Andrew Dodge, Ryan Hodl, Tyler McQuilkin, Lyle Rudnicki and Oliver Rudnicki, have racked up NWC championships in 2012-2013 and 2014-2015. Strong leadership over the last three to four years has enabled the Bucs to excel, and much of that can be attributed to the example set by Jesse Salzwedel, ‘14 and the contributions of Samson Martinez, ‘16, who graduated last spring in only three years.
“I became pretty close with Jesse sophomore year,” McQuilkin said. “It was a great experience because he was a good leader as far as being a student-athlete. We would talk a lot about how to manage group projects, plus all of your homework and then also take care of practice, while still being a good teammate.”
While at Whitworth, Salzwedel and Martinez were not only successful golfers, but were superior students as well, setting the bar high for future generations of Pirate golfers. That example has clearly paid off for Friedrichs and his seniors, taking the meaning of “student-athlete” to a new level in the golf program.
“The academics have been awesome,” Friedrichs said. “We had our highest team GPA last fall, a 3.59 cumulative with everybody on the team.”
As the class of 2016 nears the finish line, the six seniors will compete in their final months as a team, and it seems, a brotherhood. That said, golf aside, the Pirate men have prepared themselves well for a bright future beyond their college golf careers.
A Passing of the Torch
Coming off a third place finish in the 2014-2015 NWC conference championships, the Whitworth women’s golf team will look to achieve more success this spring, led by seniors Chelsea Bayley, Yvonne LaCoursiere and Cindy Tapia.
That being said, there is a torch to be passed, as junior Michal Schuster will be the lone senior on the roster in the fall of 2016. As Schuster begins to prepare herself for an increased leadership role, Tapia wants to encourage her to remember to keep the team loose and having fun.
“Golf is really easy to get tired of and it’s not always fun,” Tapia said. “I think it’s important to remember that at the end of the day, it’s about the friendships and the relationships that you make.”
While Tapia fills the role of the fun-loving, relaxed leader, Bayley and LaCoursiere provide leadership from their own unique angles.
“They all bring a lot of different perspectives, which is good,” Schuster said. “Chelsea is really intense and competitive, Cindy puts forth the fun atmosphere and Yvonne is steady and constant; she’s the thinker.”
The three contrasting leadership styles have struck a balance that has felt very comfortable, Schuster said. Heading into the 2016-2017 season, Schuster hopes to continue to build on what the class of ‘16 has established.
“I would really like to try and continue the legacy that they’ve built by pulling on each of their different influences,” Schuster said. “I want make sure all of the incoming freshmen get to experience those balanced perspectives as well.”