Entering the 2015-16 season, Linfield men’s golf coach Greg Copeland was tasked with replacing five graduated seniors, including the Northwest Conference Player of the Year and three other multi-year lettermen.
“While we had some very good returners, I knew we would be young,” said Copeland, whose roster listed just one senior. “We had a large freshmen class with some very good players. I just didn’t know if any of them could step right in and help the program right away.”
Carrying 12 players on the roster allowed Copeland to keep practices competitive as players battled to earn playing time in tournaments.
Struggling in the early going, Linfield sat in sixth place in the NWC point standings after the fall portion of the schedule reached completion, a position Copeland attributed directly to the youth of the team.
Once play resumed in the spring, “we started to see some real improvement and more consistency. A core group really started to rise to the top,” said Copeland. Playing with one senior, two sophomores and a pair of first-year players, the Wildcats elevated their game to capture fourth place at the NWC Championships. Linfield was fifth in the final overall point standings.
“Our best tournament was the Willamette Invitational where we took second. We beat Whitworth, which the next week ended up winning the conference championship.”
Newcomer Mason Rodby, the starting center on the Linfield basketball team, was the most consistent performer with a 77.50 per-round stroke average. Logan Davis and Kyle Hargrave enjoyed three top-10 finishes over the course of the season. Lucas Balala, who averaged 78.55 strokes, clinched both a top-5 and a top-10 finish. Freshman Mason Krieger was another key addition, averaging 79.05 strokes while notching a pair of top-10 results. Another freshman, Jackson Hval, made the most of his opportunities, averaging 79.0 strokes in a handful of matches.
“This team has great potential,” praised Copeland. “I believe Linfield is going to be very competitive in the conference next year. The returning guys will continue to improve and the incoming freshmen will be very good in the future.”