What’s a team to do when it’s already reached the pinnacle of a conference?
Reload, of course.
Penn men’s golf will rely heavily on new faces if it is to contend once again in 2016. And through a talented three-man freshman class and a sophomore transfer, the Quakers seem poised to do exactly that.
After losing senior stars Ben Cooley and Austin Powell — both of whom stepped up especially big in the Ivy Championships — to graduation, the Red and Blue will need to look for reliably low scores elsewhere on the roster.
Judging by the fall season, the best candidate to immediately fill the void will be sophomore Carter Thompson. After averaging below par his senior year of high school, Thompson sat out his freshman year at Florida State before transferring to University City this fall.
The Tallahassee, Fla., native then proceeded to impress in his first college action, shooting a 68 in his very first round at the season-opening Cornell Invitational. Thompson then proceeded to shoot a Penn-best 218 over the 56-hole tournament, leading the Quakers to a 7th-place finish out of the field of 14.
The Red and Blue also got impressive fall production from traditional freshmen. Leading the way was Josh Goldenberg: After leading Scarsdale (N.Y.) High School to a New York public high school state championship in 2014, he notched several impressive scores in his first college action, including a Quaker-best 219 at LSU’s David Toms Classic in October.
“A few freshmen this year had a good showing in the fall season. Josh Goldenberg was one [of them],” Penn coach Bob Heintz said. “He stepped up big time.”
Also tasting their first action for the Red and Blue last fall were freshman KJ Smith and Zareh Kaloustian. Though their scores were not quite as low as Thompson and Goldenberg, Heintz was impressed by the maturity of his young players.
“Anytime in golf when you step up to next level, you always have the feeling of ‘do I belong here?’ and you’re just trying to keep chin above water,” he said. “To be able to get in when its not life or death and to prove themselves is really big for them.”
The women, of course, will also be adding some freshmen to the team. Georgia native Rachael Dai — who led the team with a 77.1 scoring average in the fall season — and Canadian Janet Zheng have also made waves in their first handful of college tournaments.
“College play is very different than anything they’re used to,” women's coach Mark Anderson said. “I think it is a great learning experience for them, with balancing travel times and practices and school as well as getting collegiate experience.”
Now, for Penn’s six golf newcomers, the breaking-in period of fall play is over; it’s time for the meat of the college links calendar.
And judging by their early progress, the potential of Penn golf’s freshmen is just as high as their scores are low.Comments powered by Disqus
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