The Master’s University men’s golf coach Jason Semelsberger isn’t one to exaggerate. If anything, he likes to temper expectations and preach reality.
So, when he says his team’s goal is to make the national tournament and contend for a national title every year, you better believe he thinks it’s possible.
“That (goal) won’t change,” said Semelsberger, whose team opened 2017 with a two-day tournament in Oklahoma City starting Monday.
“We did lose our best player in Joey Downey, but each year the guys mature and grow as men and as players and develop their skills,” Semelsberger said. “I’m hoping this team does the same and we’re able to exceed even what we did last year.”
Last year, the Mustangs won their third straight conference title before finishing 11th both at nationals and in the NAIA’s postseason poll.
The team opened this season at No. 25 in the nation, a steep drop for a squad returning four of its top five players.
Of those four, seniors Samuel Eisenhuth and Joshua Delo will serve as co-captains. Eisenhuth finished 19th overall at last season’s nationals with a four-round score of 303.
Delo posted a 311.
Junior Robert Penalber and sophomore Karsten Briley also return. Penalber is extremely long off the tee and is fine-tuning his short game.
Briley, Semelsberger said, is more experienced than a typical sophomore, having played in all the team’s matches last season.
“His understanding of the game is advanced,” Semelsberger said. “He’s a cerebral player who can think his way around the course.”
As for newcomers, the Mustangs brought in freshman Joshua Kehl, who figures to plug in immediately as the team’s No. 5, and Jason Karkenny, a name familiar to followers of The Master’s athletics.
Karkenny, who in four years on the Mustang baseball team won more games than any pitcher in program history, is now working on his MBA.
He’s also working to master a game he’s been in Semelsberger’s ear about since arriving on campus.
“There’s potential there,” the coach said. “He has a really good head on his shoulders. He’s able to manage his emotions and deal with adversity. He’s just a competitive guy, and that translates well.”
Semelsberger also said Karkenny, as an older guy in the faith, can provide an example for younger players to follow.
“He can be a good representative to the guys,” said Semelsberger, whose team, which also features sophomore Nathan Leigh, will travel to Oklahoma City on Saturday and play a practice round Sunday.
The Mustangs opened the UC Ferguson Invitational at Lincoln Park Golf Course on Monday morning.
Check www.Athletics.Masters.edu for updates.