The Taylor men’s and women’s golf teams finished their fall season last weekend at the Purgatory Invitational in Noblesville, Indiana. Both teams finished first in a seven-team field.
Senior Nicole Jung, who has taken first in three of the five tournaments the women’s team has played this year, fired a 75–74–74 in her three rounds to take home first place in the women’s tournament. The week before, she placed first in the Battle at the Henge.
“Being late in the season, it was a little bit more challenging because of the weather,” Jung said about the Battle at the Henge. “I just took it shot by shot and just tried to stay in the moment. If I hit a bad shot, just try to make up for it.”
The women’s team won four of the five tournaments they played in this fall season, with their only non-victory coming at the UIndy Fall Invitational, where they placed third behind two teams ranked in the NCAA Division II poll.
Despite only playing in one spring tournament last year, the women’s team established itself as a national contender before the season was canceled due to COVID-19. They had finished the year ranked No. 4 and were the only team to knock off No. 1 ranked Keiser University in a tournament.
“We’re all on the same page, and we’ve got a great team,” Head Coach Cam Andry said. “This could be a special season, and we just want to embrace that. Embrace the expectations, but still, just appreciate the journey of working hard, and they do that.”
The Trojans have an experienced group, and when seniors Annie Stimmel and Maddie Thomas decided to return for another season, that experience only grew. Now, they have anywhere from four to five seniors competing at each tournament.
“Having that experience and having played so long together is something that helps,” Jung said. “And we’re trying to use that to push and better the younger players as well.”
The women’s team finished the fall season with a 27–2 record, including a 21–0 record against NAIA opponents.
On the men’s side, more uncertainty was present coming into the season, but the younger group grew throughout the fall and finished strong with back-to-back first-place finishes in tournaments.
Junior Javan Johnson, who’s a sophomore in athletic eligibility, paced the Trojans at the Purgatory Invitational and notched his first career individual title the week before in the Battle at the Henge.
“I just wanted to make it simple,” Johnson said about the difficult conditions in the Battle at the Henge. “You don’t want to make golf harder than it is, and keeping it simple and hitting the ball well helped me a lot.”
Johnson, who dealt with an injury that kept him out much of his freshman year and then a shortened sophomore year, has only played a little over half a semester of college golf before this season. Still, he finds himself one of the more experienced players on the men’s roster.
Andry was impressed at the growth Johnson and the rest of the returning men’s team had shown from the end of last year to the beginning of this season. They took home three first-place finishes as a team, and have yet to finish behind an NAIA opponent.
“I’ve been really proud of them,” Andry said. “There were some growing pains last year, but I was hoping that experience would pay dividends when they came back. We’re still a little inconsistent, but they work hard and really love being around each other.”
Almost all of the Trojan’s top-five scores for tournaments this year have come from freshman and sophomores. Freshman Adam Kasitz took home an individual title at the Players Club Invitational. Sophomores Erik Fahlen, Noah Ross and Drew Pickering all carded top-10 finishes in a tournament this fall.
The spring season, which contains the Crossroads League and National Championships, should prove great tests for where each team is at.
“For both teams, what I’m really going to try to preach is to not get so obsessed with the final destination that you lose appreciation for what got you there,” Andry said. “Like I said before, just enjoy the journey.”
If the fall season is any indication, the spring season could be special for Taylor golf.