By Alex Neupert, Sports Editor
For the second year in a row, the University of Missouri—St. Louis men’s golf team has emerged as the strongest in the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC), hoisting the GLVC Championship trophy on April 19 after doing so in the 2015 postseason. They defeated Indianapolis 4-1 in the match play final after first shutting down host Illinois-Springfield in the semifinals by the same score.
On top of back-to-back championships for the Tritons, the team will head to the NCAA Division II Regional tournament as the No.1 seed in the Midwest region. The top five teams from the Midwest/Central Regional, which will be held May 2-4 at the Meadows in Allendale, Michigan, will advance to the NCAA Championships May 17-24 in Denver, Colorado.
UMSL trailed three teams after the first round on April 17 but came up big with a tournament-best 283 in round two to come out on top with a two-round total of 573; Bellarmine trailed by just one stroke (574) by the end of Sunday, with Indianapolis (575) and Southern Indiana (588) rounding out the top four. James Henderson, freshman, finance, helped lead the second round charge with a score of 68.
The Tritons continued to play well the next day, completing round three with a score of 290, further distancing themselves from their opponents. Meanwhile, Southern Indiana slipped out of the top four as Illinois-Springfield emerged with a 287 to narrowly overtake Lewis. Henderson ended the three-round opening to the tournament tied for third overall with an individual score of 213.
In the semifinals, UMSL got off to a great start with Colby Yates, senior, criminal justice, shooting a 73 to defeat his Illinois-Springfield opponent by a healthy margin. Talon Stupek outshot Julien de Poyen, junior, international business, however, to tie everything up for Illinois-Springfield. The next three players for the Tritons kept the Prairie Stars at bay to take the win 4-1 with Anthony Cope, senior, international business, posting his own 68.
The finals got off to an interesting start as Yates faced off against Zach Gurtner of Indianapolis, tying at 71. Overall, the matchup was as evenly matched as a finals bout could get, UMSL winning by the narrowest of margins—a combined four strokes across the five matches. Henderson ended up clinching the victory with his one-stroke win over Evan Stoker.
UMSL will now look forward to the NCAA Division II Regional tournament, which will be the 11th time the men’s golf team has been there and the fifth in the last six years. Things are certainly looking on point for the Tritons, who, after last week’s GLVC Championship, have won six tournaments over the course of the 2016 season. Hopefully, their skills will lead them to victory in Michigan on May 2.