Golfers head to MIAA Championship with three-win streak

corey garriott

Quietly, the Washburn Ichabod golf team is making history.

Golf is not the most popular sport on campus and the team plays in Topeka about once every two years, but the Ichabods are enjoying perhaps the best season in team history.

“I think it’s one of our best seasons,” said Matt Ewald, sophomore Ichabod golfer.

The Ichabods have put together a four-tournament win streak in the fall and are currently riding a three-tournament win streak into the MIAA Championship today and tomorrow in Branson, Mo., at the Branson Creek Golf Club.

“Hopefully we can win two more in a row and make it to nationals and make it six,” said Ewald.

Individually, this team stands out by boasting two of the top five players in Washburn history ranked by all-time scoring average. Sophomore Matt Ewald ranks first, followed by junior Ryan Deutsch in third with averages of 73.67 and 75.11, respectively.

“I personally think that us five have the most talent this team has ever seen since it’s been here,” said Ewald, speaking of himself, Deutsch, senior Taylor Dunham, junior John Robbins and freshman Matt Lazzo.

The closest season to this year in terms of wins was the 2004-05 Ichabods. They won six tournaments, including the MIAA and Central Regional Championships. This year’s version has seven wins already with the MIAA Championship, the Central Regional and a possible bid to the National Championship still pending. But it doesn’t necessarily mean they are better than the ’04-’05 team.

“It’s tough to say,” said Deutsch, who was a freshman on the ’04-’05 team. “We’ve played different courses than we did that year. But this is obviously a good team. We’ve got a lot of talent on it.”

Three of the last four years have seen the MIAA Championship and Central Regional Championship go to the Ichabods. The exception was last season when they finished second in the MIAA conference and second in the Central Regional tournament.

“I do see us winning conference and I do see us winning Regionals because we are good enough to do both,” said Lazzo. “Now if we don’t prepare, things could go another way.”

Preparation and experience in big time tournaments, however, do not appear to be a problem for Washburn. Besides more wins, this year’s team still has something else none of the others in years past had – a victory in a big California tournament where good teams lose to great ones.

“It is a good accomplishment,” said Deutsch. “[The Otter Invitational] was the biggest out of the three (in the current win streak).”

Even so, history has yet to make a judgment on this team. To qualify for the National Championship tournament, a team has to win its regional, and the Ichabods qualified for nationals in ’03, ’04 and ’05. Respectively, they finished 16th, 12th and 10th out of 18 teams. It was a steady improvement each season until they failed to qualify last year.

This year, the Ichabods hope to get back into their routine of making the National Championship tournament and are intending to make a serious splash in front of a national audience.

“I definitely think it’s our best season ever, so far,” said Ewald. “Hopefully we can only make it better in the next two tournaments and then make a showing at Nationals just to complete it and show that we played good in the fall and we got it going in the spring and we’re for real.”