2017-18 IN REVIEW: The Ashland University men's golf season was bookended by strong team finishes – a tie for third at the Ohio Dominican Kickoff Classic and a fifth-place showing at Saginaw Valley State in early September, then back-to-back team victories in the spring at Ohio Valley and ODU. The Eagles finished in a tie for fourth place at the 2018 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championships – their highest placement since the fall of 2013 (tied for second).
KONDRATICK LOOKING TO KEEP FALL STREAK ALIVE: Now-senior Austin Kondratick was Ashland's top golfer in eight of nine tournaments as a junior, including in all five fall events. In fact, Kondratick has been the low Eagle in every fall tournament the start of the fall of 2016 (10 events total).
LOOKING AHEAD TO 2018-19: First-year head coach Dennis North takes over a team which is attempting to get to the NCAA Division II Championships for the first time since 1974, and is looking to get back to a D-II regional for the first time since 2014. Ashland's men also haven't won a conference championship since taking the Great Lakes Valley Conference crown in 1979-80.
"That's going to be our goal from Day 1, is everything we're going to do is based on competition," North said. "They want more competition at practices, they want to be challenged more in practice. On paper, that team's definitely got a chance to do it."
The talent to potentially break those droughts, however, is there, starting with Kondratick. Narrowly missing out on an individual spot at regionals last year, Kondratick averaged a round of 73.6, while earning medalist honors at Ohio Valley and finishing in a tie for third at the conference tournament.
"That kid is an amazing player," North said. "He's had a great summer."
Following Kondratick is sophomore Ben Jones, whose freshman campaign included an average round of 75.8, and a medalist finish at the spring ODU tournament. Add to that the return of junior Patrick Steffen and senior Cole Smith, and Ashland has four of its five starters back from a season ago.
"That's what we're most excited for," said North. "We're curious to see what that 5-8 spot is going to be. It's going to be real interesting to see. Some people are tournament players, some people are practice players.
"We're really looking forward to getting the season started."
North's process of preparing for 2018-19, having been announced as head coach less than a month ago, has been a fast-paced one.
"Everything has gone really quick," he said. "The process of this has been running with my hair on fire."