A foursome of Thunderwolves tee off this week at the NJCAA Division III men’s golf championships.
Repeating as regional champions — a feat the program achieved just once before — NCCC coach Matt Oleski’s top golfers enter a field of 48 in the 72-hole tournament at Chautauqua Golf Club.
Murphy Lang, the Royalton-Hartland graduate who became NCCC’s first regional medalist at last month’s tournament, is one of four players in the field who competed in the national tournament in 2019.
“I think that will give him somewhat of an advantage,” Oleski said. “You can’t really teach experience, especially here at Chautauqua Golf Club. He’s played it more than anyone, having a 72-hole tournament under his belt. He really knows the greens. It’s a course that isn’t too difficult, tee to green. But when you get on the greens, that’s what gives guys headaches.”
Joining Lang on the course will be Sam Hyman, Fred Waterman and Cameron Cswaykus. Hyman, an All-Region performer who finished first at three events this year, and Waterman have accepted scholarships to play in the competitive Sun Conference (NAIA) for Ava Maria University in Naples, Fla. Contributors to the regional championship victory, Steven Aldridge and Emily Neidrauer (Lockport), will accompany the NCCC team in an assistant coaching capacity.
The top 18 finishers will earn All-America recognition. NCCC has had one All-American before, Shane Helbig (Niagara-Wheatfield) in 2016, and Oleski is hopeful that another Thunderwolf can achieve that feat this year.
“You have to put it together for four consecutive days if you want to be an All-American,” Oleski said. “Anyone can have a good nine, or a good 18. But hole No. 1 counts as much as hole 72. You have to be consistent.”
Oleski is proud of his players for making it through a season full of uncertainty, pandemic restrictions, and weather conditions that he said “we wouldn’t let our dogs go out in.”
Temperatures and wind gust readings were both in the 40s when NCCC played a tournament at Chautauqua earlier this season. The forecast for this week is in the 70s with rain possible.
“It’s a credit to all of them,” Oleski said. “Knowing that last year was stripped away from some of these players and to come back and have faith, not knowing what the future would hold, and putting in the hard work to make sure they are best prepared to play. Being an open tournament this year, we’d be here either way. But winning the regional championship, we earned our way in.”