The Washburn golf team is taking the 4×4 route towards reclaiming the MIAA conference championship by winning four tournaments in the last four weeks of the fall season.
However, that was four months ago.
“Everybody’s looking forward to starting up again,” said Ryan Deutsch, junior. “Winter is a lot worse than it was last year. Last year it was more mild. We were playing some through January and February. We’ve hardly been out at all this winter. So everybody is anxious to get out and get after it.”
The Ichabods’ hot stretch of four wins included two conference tournaments, which places them first in the conference with 16 points to Central Missouri State’s and Missouri Western’s 12 points.
“It was fun, obviously we ended on a good note winning four in a row,” said Deutsch. “It wasn’t easy, but hopefully we can pick up where we left off.”
To pick up where they left off, the team has been doing what they can to keep the rust off.
“I live with Ryan Deutsch, John Robbins, Spencer Hemingway and Sam Wempe,” said Matt Ewald, sophomore. “And in our garage we have a computer system set up with a mat and a net. We can hit balls in there and record our swing. We’ll also drive to Kansas City where they have heated stalls and we’ll go hit balls there. We’re just waiting for the snow to clear off and the ground to unfreeze so we can go out and start chipping and putting at the club.”
Ewald has finished first in three of the tournaments during the streak, while Deutsch has finished second in the first three and third in the last one.
So keeping the rust off over the long layoff is important, but only half the battle. The other half is maintaining the mentality of being the team to beat and not letting up for a second.
“I think we got to take the confidence and not be cocky, but carry a little swagger and just play confidently,” said Ewald. “We know that if we’re playing to what we should be, there’s no reason we shouldn’t win every conference tournament and the conference championship.”
Prior to last season, the Ichabods had won four straight MIAA conference championships and four straight Central Regional titles. However, Missouri Western bested Washburn for the conference title 39-35. At the Central Regional championship, Winona State beat out Washburn by seven strokes, giving Washburn a second place finish but ending their season.
Though the Ichabods let the conference championship slip through their grasp last season, they still feel they have the best team in the MIAA.
“There’s some good players in the conference, but as a whole, our depth is better and we have stronger players,” said Ewald. “Any of our top four or five guys can go out there and take it deep and shoot 4 or 5 under par.”
A new edition to the team who also has that potential is Matt Lazzo. He’s a freshman transfer from Wichita State, where he played last semester. He has also had the honor of being the Kansas Jr. Golfer of the Year.
“I think he’s going to be a huge addition to our team. I think he’ll step into the top five,” said Ewald. “It will make us even stronger. I’m pumped to see him play and see what he can do for us.”
In five tournaments so far this season, Deutsch leads the team with four top-5 finishes followed by Ewald with three top-5 finishes. Senior Taylor Dunham and juniors John Robbins and Daniel Hersch have one each.
The team leader in scoring on the season is Deutsch with an average of 70.9 per round. He’s followed by Ewald with 72.2, Robbins with 74.2, Hersch with 74.5 and Dunham with 74.6.
Washburn’s first tournament of the spring season will be March 5-6 at the 57th Southern Cal Intercollegiate Championships in San Clemente, Cal.