October 17, 2019

Webster golf aims for 10th conference title

The Gorlok golf team looks to keep what has become an annual winning streak alive for the fourth year.

JUSTIN SWEENY/Contributed Photo
Junior Will Hocker broke the school record for the lowest scored round of golf. Hocker and his team hope these victories can be improved upon to win their next championships.

The Webster golf team aims to win its fourth consecutive conference tournament championship this year. Players and head coach Andrew Belsky have one word on their minds when it comes to winning a 10th overall conference title: consistency.

The Gorloks opened the 2019-20 season with a first-place finish at the Culver’s Edge Fall Invitational against 22 other teams. Webster followed that showing with a second-place finish at the Carthage Fall Classic on Sept. 7. Only Illinois Wesleyan University, the defending Division III national champions, finished better.

“We have more to work on, but it also shows the guys that they are in the national discussion,” said Belsky. “[Webster is] a team to be reckoned with across the region and across the country.”

Senior Zac Ciesla and junior Will Hocker were both recently honored as Golfers of the Week by the SLIAC, Webster’s athletic conference. Hocker set a new school record for the lowest round of golf at 63. 

Both athletes have played on SLIAC championship-winning teams every year of their Webster careers. Despite Hocker’s and Ciesla’s achievements, they said an NCAA national title remains their highest priority.

“It’s great to be able to set a record, but if I can’t do it on a consistent basis, then it really doesn’t serve me well,” Hocker said. 

Belsky has taken Webster to NCAA national tournaments seven times over the last 15 seasons. The Gorloks “made the cut”  for the first time in 2017, meaning the university finished among the top 18 D-III teams in the country. Ciesla feels the key to victory on a bigger stage is being in the zone mentally. 

“We’re all really physically able to go out and play well,” Ciesla said. “We’ve just got to stay in our own head game, not get out of our own element. I believe if we do that, we can go out and win every tournament.” 

Athletic Director Scott Kilgallon praised the team’s academic performance as well. Belsky earned Coach of the Year honors eight times. He also coached 11 All-American Scholars and the 2015 NCAA Division III academic national champions.

Kilgallon praised the team’s history of earning honors for the team GPA. The golf team was one of just eight teams to an All-Academic Team honor and President’s Special Recognition from the sport’s coaches association according to Webster News.

“They’re not only playing great golf, they’re getting it done academically and that’s something we can all be proud of, as well,” Kilgallon said.

The Gorloks will be back in action on Sept. 22 to 23 at the Rhodes Collegiate Fall Classic at Tunica National Golf Course in Tunica, Miss.

“It’s been a fun journey, my teammates are great guys,” Ciesla said with his final season now underway. “We’ve really grown together the last three years and we’re having a lot of fun right now. We’re just looking forward to playing good golf at nationals this year.”

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