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2003-04 Men's Golf Season Preview

August 29, 2003

2002-03: A LOOK BACK
Amherst men's golf head coach Jack Arena '83 used one word to describe the 2002-03 season, inconsistent. "We had a lot of guys who played well sometimes, and other days just wouldn't have their games," he said. This inconsistency was evident in the tournament placings of the Lord Jeffs throughout the year. The fall season had a slow start, finishing in 14th and 15th place at the Duke Nelson Tournament and the Williams Invitational, respectively. However, the Jeffs stepped up their performance at the NESCAC Tournament and the WNEC Invitational with fifth-place finishes in both. Sophomore Justin Sharaf led Amherst in both tournaments, shooting a two-day total of 153, good for eighth place in the NESCAC Tourney, and tying for 18th place with teammate Todd Ballaban with a round of 80 at the WNEC Invite. The first half of the season concluded with a 25th-place finish at the NEIGA Fall Championship. Sharaf paced the Jeffs again with a two-day total of 155, which put him in a five-way tie for 24th place. Also scoring for Amherst were senior co-captains Jude Volek (167) and Ballaban (168), and first-years Keith Zalaski (173) and David Litt (175).

The spring season brought more consistency and balance as the Lord Jeffs had three different players lead the team in as many matches. Sophomore Mike Valentine, who hadn't placed for the Jeffs since the season opener, led the team to an eighth-place finish with a 79 and individual placing of 11th at the Palamountain Invitational. It was then Volek's turn in the spotlight at the Lou Flumere Invitational, where both he and the team earned ninth-place finishes. Volek shot a 78 in the one-day competition. Sharaf returned to the team's top spot in the District 1 Shootout with a two-day total of 160, finishing in 34th place. Amherst took home 11th place in the tournament. The team finished its season with the annual Little Three Championship against NESCAC rivals Wesleyan and Williams. The Jeffs were able to best Wesleyan in match play (8-4), but fell to Williams (2-10) and took second in the match.

The Jeffs lost three seniors to graduation. Co-captains Todd Ballaban and Jude Volek consistently scored for Amherst and will be missed. Steve Collins, who was in and out of placement for the Jeffs, also graduated.

Junior captain Justin Sharaf will lead the youthful Jeffs, who are without a senior on this year's roster. Aside from leading Amherst in five of eight tournaments last year, he also earned Second-Team All-NESCAC honors in the fall and was named to the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA)/PING All-Northeast Region team. Also returning for the Lord Jeffs are junior Mike Valentine, the only other returnee to lead the Jeffs in a tournament last season, and sophomores Keith Zalaski and David Litt.

Arena has added three members to this year's team, hoping to receive some immediate help from first-years Andrew Bruns (Eaton, OH), Sean Jules (Glencoe, IL), and Drew Russ (Kula, HI), all with competitive resumes.