Sophomore Zareh Kaloustian was cut from Penn men’s golf at the start of the 2016 season. In his time away from competition, he found his confidence on the course again.
This past weekend, he finished in the top 10 at the Ivy League Championships and led the Quakers to a fifth-place finish.
“Honestly, getting cut was the best thing to happen to my golf game,” he said.
Kaloustian was only able to participate in the last three tournaments of this season, and it’s no coincidence that his presence coincided with arguably the best run of play put forth by the Red and Blue: the Princeton Invitational, the Yale Invitational, and now, the Ivy League Championship.
The Quakers came into the final tournament of the year especially confident after their second-place finish at the Yale Invitational, starting the championship off in a tie for fourth place after day one. Due to challenging course conditions, the team struggled on the second day, posting a 304 and sliding down to a tie for sixth place. But everything came together on the third day.
“I just felt like guys were a lot freer on the last day coming from behind,” said Kaloustian. “We are a young squad who put a lot of pressure on ourselves to perform. It’s really tough to play when you’re putting pressure on every single shot.”
This more relaxed style of play resulted in the Red and Blue posting a 295 on the day, moving them up to fifth place — a far better result than last year’s seventh place finish.
On the whole, Kaloustian led the way for the Quakers, finishing in a tie for eighth with a 75-72-75 score line. Just behind him in a tie for 10th place was junior Amay Poria, and sophomore Josh Goldenberg rounded out Penn’s top three, finishing tied for 23rd. While it would have liked more, this result is a clear indication that Penn men’s golf is trending in the right direction.
“Overall, I was relatively pleased with [the result],” Poria said. “We didn’t win the tournament, which is always what we want to do, but there are a lot of positives from it and a lot of improvements from last year’s Ivy League Championship.”
The roster only sported two seniors, Matt Kern and Dane Walton, so the future of the team belongs to young, hard-working players like Kaloustian. With performances like this, even considering the uncertainty regarding whether interim coach Michael Blodgett chooses to return or not, the team’s future is undoubtedly in good hands.
“Our team can go and really play courses well, it’s just going to be about how well we can minimize our mistakes in the years going forward,” Kaloustian said. “I think we have a really good shot to perform well and win some golf tournaments.”
The narrative was awfully similar for Penn women’s golf, which also came up short of championship glory but also rose two spots from its performance at the same tournament a year ago, finishing in fourth place this time around.
But where the story differs for the female Quakers is that their superstar was no young blood. Senior Erin Lo dominated the field in her last ever Ivy League Championships, going +11 over the three-day tournament en route to finishing sixth place individually, resulting in second team All-Ivy honors.
Though Lo will unquestionably be a tough loss, there are positive signs for the future of the women’s program. Three of the Quakers’ top five scorers will return next season, including 18th-place finisher and freshman Christina Park, giving the Red and Blue positive signs that both of its teams are heading in the right direction entering the offseason.
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