by Eva Dean Folkert
The No. 9-ranked Hope College men's golf team returned to familiar territory on a new course this weekend. Playing the MIAA Championships for the first time at L.E. Kaufman Golf Course in Wyoming, Michigan, the Flying Dutchmen reclaimed the MIAA title that they relinquished a year ago. They did so by not only winning the final two rounds played at Kaufman GC, but they were also victorious in all four MIAA Jamborees this fall season.
The MIAA men's golf championship is Hope's fifth in six years and 21st overall.
The Flying Dutchmen earned back the league crown won by rival Calvin College a year ago. Hope finished with a six-round total of 1708 for an MIAA-record average of 286.3, 52 strokes better than league runner-up Calvin (1770). Trine University finished in third (1799) ahead of fourth-place Kalamazoo (1780) by a stroke.
Hope shattered its previous MIAA record for a six-round average of 293.3 in 2016.
"I remember (Hope's co-AD) Tim Schoonveld told me once that there are not many teams who get to play for a championship, so when you're in the hunt for one, it's special. I'll never forget that," said second-year head coach Scott Lokers. "We'll never take winning a championship for granted. And doing it with these guys has been a ton of fun. They are a great group. I'm very proud of them."
For the weekend championship, teammates Josh Gibson of Grandville (Grandville HS), pictured left, and Daniel Settecerri of Bloomfield Hills (Bloomfield Hills HS), pictured right, played as steady as their team did. The two led Hope with back-to-back rounds of 70 while the Flying Dutchmen also posted consecutive rounds of 284. Hope was nine strokes better than second-place Kalamazoo over the two-round weekend.
Senior Gibson and junior Settecerri tied for third place in the individual standings during the weekend's competition as they both finished with identical scores of 140.
Kalamazoo's Nick Ludka was medalist for the weekend with a total of 137 (69-68).
Senior Ben Kramer of Spring Lake, Michigan (Spring Lake HS) carded a final-round 71, and when added to his 72 on Friday, finished in fifth place with 143.
Andrew Goble of Brighton, Michigan (Brighton HS) posted a 73 on Saturday.By shooting 72 on Friday, the senior totaled 145 strokes and took ninth place.
Junior Noah Weigle of Grandville (Grandville HS) shot rounds of 75 and 77 and claimed 22nd with a 152 total.
Playing as an individual on Saturday, freshman Matt Schawel of Vernon Hills, Illinois (Adlai E. Stevenson HS) had an 80 for the Flying Dutchmen.
Hope has concluded play for the fall season.
As part of their spring schedule, the Flying Dutchmen will host the final 36 holes of the MIAA's NCAA Division III national championship qualifier in April. A date, a time and place will be announced in the spring.