Golf team wins SLIAC championship
Webster University’s golf team claimed a first-place title and two records at the men’s St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Golf championship, held April 18 and 19 at the Forest Park Golf Club.
With an overall team score of 886, the Gorloks shattered the previous SLIAC record of 899, which was achieved by Maryville University in 2004. The team score is also a record for the Webster golf program. Spalding University and Fontbonne University finished 30 strokes behind to tie for second.
The championship is the fourth in the program’s history, the last being in 2008 with a score of 965. With the win, the Gorloks gain automatic entry into the NCAA Division III championship on May through 14 in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Freshman Kaleb Kessler shot a 219 overall in the three-round, 54-hole tournament and secured first place in individual scoring.
He is the third Gorlok ever to win the SLIAC championship. Kessler said he was thrilled about the individual honor as well as the team victory.
“I’m extremely excited,” Kessler said. “It was one of the team’s goals to make nationals. We knew we could make it.”
Kessler was not the only Gorlok to achieve high honors at the tournament. Sophomore Steven Kinsman shot a 220 and placed second to Kessler. Sophomore Daniel Klipsch tied for eighth with a score of 226.
Finishing in 10th was sophomore Kyler Scott, who shot a 227. Each of the men received SLIAC All-Conference honors for their performances.
For his first-place finish, Kessler was named the SLIAC Player of the Year and the Newcomer of the Year. Kessler is only the fourth individual in SLIAC history to achieve both honors simultaneously. He also shot a hole-in-one, the first of his career.
“I didn’t expect (the hole in one or the Player of the Year),” Kessler said. “I just thought about playing each shot individually instead of the entire round. It just worked out for me.”
The Gorloks now turn their focus towards the NCAA championship. Scott said he and the team understand a 2011 NCAA championship might not be feasible. Instead, the team plans to use the experience to learn how they can improve.
“What we need to do is to be competitive in the national championship,” Scott said.
Still, Scott recognized the SLIAC championship win as a landmark achievement for the golf program.
“This is a pretty big deal for Webster,” Scott said. Last year, we were nowhere near the level we are now. Winning the SLIAC championship is a big statement to the conference and to ourselves. This is a stepping stone for the program.”
Scott attributed Webster’s resurgence to coach Andrew Belsky and his recruiting. Scott said the golf program would receive a boost, especially in recruiting, with this tournament win.
The Gorloks will not play in another golf tournament for nearly a month, at the NCAA Division III championship.