IUP dominates competition at Cottrell Invitational

Three golfers finished in the top five as the Crimson Hawks won by 14 strokes at the Dr. Edwin B. Cottrell Invitational in West Chester.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania built its huge lead on Sunday and did not relinquish it, as the team scored a 291. They tied California University of Pennsylvania for a day-best 308.

IUP has now claimed first place four years out of the five-year history of the event. The only time the team did not win was when they did not compete at the tournament in 2013.

Individually, Max Kirsch (freshman, biology/pre-med) was IUP’s top performer, as second place with a 7-over 147. It was Kirsch’s best performance as a Crimson Hawk.

“This was my lowest finish this year, and I think it will really kick-start my spring season and hopefully carry over to summer and fall,” Kirsch said.

Zack Kempa (senior, marketing) finished second for the team with a 9-over 149, which placed him third overall.

“For myself, it was great to play more golf and get in the feel of playing again,” Kempa said. “I hit the ball well and just couldn’t get the ball in the hole fast enough.”

Jack Owen (junior, sports administration) shot a tournament-record 70 in the first round before recording a 10-over 80 in the second. He finished right behind Kempa with a 10-over 150, which placed him in a tie for fourth with West Chester’s Zachary Boe.

“On the personal level, it was really a mixed bag,” Owen said. “It was nice to get back into some good form and have a tournament-record low score on the first day.

“[Monday] was rough. I was tentative and probably a bit tight as I had the overnight lead.”

After Owen, Brady Moran (freshman, safety science) checked in next for the Crimson Hawks with a 14-over 154 to take 12th place.

Following Moran was Kenneth Sames (sophomore, business), who finished in a tie for 21st place with a 17-over 157. Finally, Brett Geiser (sophomore, management) finished with a 16-over 156 that placed him in a seven-way tie for 14th place.

“We finally played this week how we should be playing all the time,” Kirsch said. “We had a lot of positive energy this week, and we were definitely ready to win.”

Owen shared Kirsch’s sentiment. He also stressed that getting the win was significant, as it allows the team to justify having the No. 1 ranking in the region.

“[It’s] a position that we cannot lose until regionals,” Owen said.

Before the team competes at the NCAA Super Regional in just under a month, however, they have one more invitational to compete in, which happens to be their home tournament.

The 51st Annual Cecil Spadafora Invitational will take place April 13-14 at the Chestnut Ridge Golf Resort in Blairsville.

Last year during the Cecil Spadafora Invitational, Sean Sweithelm shot an even par 142 to help lead the Crimson Hawks to second place overall.