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The Indiana University of Pennsylvania golf team’s run of six consecutive conference titles ended Sunday as the team finished in a tie for third at the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Championships in Hershey.
The driving force behind the Crimson Hawks finish was last year’s champion Zack Kempa (senior, marketing), who finished second individually with an even par 144.
Kempa opened the tournament with a 1-over 73, which was good for third place going into Sunday.
He then tied with California University of Pennsylvania’s Jordan Eck and tournament champion Conor Gilbert for the best score of the final round with a 1-under 71.
“It was a good week for myself. I was very happy with how I played this past weekend,” Kempa said.
“[I] was glad to see the ball going in the hole.”
Finishing not far behind Kempa was Brett Geiser (sophomore, management), who tied for eighth place with a 5-over 149.
“This was the first time I have played in the PSAC Championship, and it was a great atmosphere,” Geiser said.
“I was proud of my consistent performance for the tournament, shooting a 75 and a 74.”
After Geiser, Kenny Sames (sophomore, business) and Max Kirsch (freshman, biology/pre-med) both tied for 12th with an 8-over 152.
Finally, Jack Owen (junior, sports administration) concluded the tournament with 14-over 158, which put him in a tie for 32nd.
Millersville University took home the crown with a 17-over 593. California University’s 19-over 595 earned them second, followed by IUP and West Chester University, who tied with a 21-over 597.
Owen commended Millersville and their coach Scott Vandegrift on the victory.
“Congratulations have to go to Millersville and especially Coach Vandegrift,” Owen said. “He had a pretty serious health scare last year (which forced him to take a leave of absence), and it was great to see him lead his team to a conference title.”
It was Millersville’s first title since 2004 and the team’s fourth PSAC championship ever.
For IUP, the third-place finish marked the first time since 2006 the team did not claim victory at the event.
It also concludes a streak of seven consecutive years with the individual PSAC champion being a Crimson Hawk.
The team’s 26 conference titles are still the most by any PSAC school. While multiple players did express disappointment in the results of the tournament, they also voiced optimism for the upcoming spring season.
“[It] was a mediocre week for the team. We had a goal of winning, and we just couldn’t get the job done,” Kempa said. “However, we were just a mere four shots off from winning so we were right there in contention. We will get them in the spring.
“The rest of the semester off might be good for the team. Rest up, get all of our school work done, focus on our fitness and hit the ground running in the spring.”
“We aim to win every event we play, and finishing third wasn’t what we were looking for,” Owen said. “We will have to go out now and have a strong spring to show everyone that we are still worthy of the No. 1 ranking in the region.”
Geiser called the event a “good showing” and expressed pride in the rest of his teammates’ performances.
With the conference championships concluded, IUP sees the end of a fall season in which the team claimed two victories and two top-five finishes during the course of its five competitions.
The Crimson Hawks will now have a five-month gap in action, with spring play starting in March.