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Thanks in large part to Zack Kempa (senior, marketing) and his score of 4-over 220, Indiana University of Pennsylvania golf finished fourth out of 16 teams at The Challenge at Mystic Rock this week.
Kempa shot a 73 and 78 in the first two rounds of the competition Monday, and he followed up on Tuesday with a tournament-leading 69 in the final round. His concluding round score brought him within four strokes of the lead and into a tie for second place with California University of Pennsylvania’s Jordan Eck.
“I was happy to finish with a 69, low round of the event, to come back and take second. [I] wish I could have done better, but [I] was very happy with my play,” Kempa said.
The next Crimson Hawks on the scoreboard were Brett Geiser (sophomore, management) and Max Kirsch (freshman, biology/pre-med), who tied for 21st with 17-over 233 apiece.
Finishing close behind was Brady Moran (freshman, safety science), who was 24th with a 19-over 235. Finally, Jack Owen (junior, sports administration) scored a 22-over 238, which placed him in a tie for 31st.
As a whole, the team finished with a 914, seven strokes behind first-place Cal U.
IUP started off the tournament with 301 and 308 in the first two rounds and finished up with a 305.
While the Crimson Hawks did finish in the top quarter of the tournament, the team expressed disappointment with their overall performance.
“Finishing fourth was not what we wanted starting out the week,” Kempa said. “As a team, we all had two good rounds and one round that wasn’t our best or below our average.”
“It was a pretty poorly played event by our team,” Moran said.
Both Moran and Owen said that Kempa’s play was a positive.
“Fourth is a disappointing result as a team, and it could have been worse if Zack hadn’t shot 69 [Tuesday],” Owen said.
According to a few of the players, the difficulty of the course and the weather conditions didn’t make the competition any easier.
“We teed off in a very cold downpour [Monday],” Geiser said. “We knew it was going to be a long, tough day.”
Owen was critical of his performance but offered plenty of optimism for the team’s next event, which happens to be the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Championships.
“I played awful golf all week, and [I] fully deserved the scores I got. I think it’s just a bump in the road,” he said. “I fully believe I can achieve my goals through hard work and determination, and I am more determined than ever to put in the hours and hard work to prove to myself, my coach and my team that I deserve a place.
“So I hope to go out at the PSAC and play well, so I can finish the year on a high note and put this bad form behind me,” he said.
Owen and the rest of the team will have two weeks to prepare themselves for the championship tournament.
If history is any indication, the team should be in top form when the time comes.
IUP is aiming to claim their seventh consecutive PSAC title, their 26th overall, when they travel to Hershey.
The Crimson Hawks have been dominant at the event, and they are excited to defend their title once again.
“[I’m] looking forward to going back to Hershey Links and defending mine and the team’s championship,” Kempa said.
The championships will take place on Oct. 19 and 20 at Hershey Links Country Club in Hershey.