While weather conditions posed problem in the earlier rounds, the Redbirds finished off the spring season on positive note, heading into the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.
Although play started off slow, Kralis is pleased with the way his team battled through adversity and is looking forward to teeing up with day one top finishers Northwestern (567) and Ohio State (573) in the 14-team field.
The 14-team tournament features every NCAA DI program from Chicago and many more from around the state and surrounding area.
Having played so well the past two weeks, the Redbirds have gained confidence and built momentum leading into the final match of the spring season.
The Redbirds received huge performances by freshman Tyler Gentillella, who led the team with a two-round score of 137 (65-72) and senior Matt Solis, who carded a 69 in round two, to sustain a day one second-place finish for the team.
Dedication and hard work are two qualities that allow people to reach success. Illinois State's men's golf program has done just that under the leadership of head coach Ray Kralis. Kralis believes the foundation has been set for the men's program to be successful and has high expectations for the upcoming season.
Entering his fifth season at the helm of the men's squad, Kralis has put ISU in contention every year for a chance to hoist the Missouri Valley Conference Championship trophy. Kralis has led both the men's and women's Illinois State golf programs to four Missouri Valley Conference Championships, is a three-time recipient of the Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year award, was named Central Illinois Professional Golfers' Association Teacher of the Year in 1994, 1997, 1998 and 2005, and has produced 21 All-Missouri Valley Conference golfers.
Kralis came to Illinois State as a student-athlete in 1986, and graduated cum laude in 1990 with a bachelor's degree in fi nance. As a player, he was an All-Missouri Valley Conference selection in 1988, and led the ISU men's golf team as a co-captain in 1989 and 1990 and was a member of the 1989 team that won the Valley championship.
After graduation, Kralis worked as the assistant golf professional at the Weibring Golf Club at Illinois State, while assisting the ISU men's golf program for two years. He then left to complete a PGA apprenticeship as the fi rst assistant at the Franklin Hills Country Club in Franklin Hills, Mich.
Kralis returned to Bloomington-Normal in 1994 as the Redbirds' assistant men's golf coach, while also working as a PGA teaching professional, until he was hired as the women's head golf coach in 2000. During his run as the women's coach he quickly helped the program climb to the top. He led the Redbird women's team to back-to-back Missouri Valley Conference Championships in 2004 and 2005, along with second-place finishes in 2003 and 2006.
Kralis was the Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year in 2003 and 2005 and produced 10 all-conference golfers. Among them was stand out golfer Samantha Richdale, who was a 17-time player of the week and earned a spot on the Missouri Valley All-Centennial team. In 2005, the team shot a 909 at the Rivercut Golf Course, which is the fourth-lowest in Valley Championship history. In the spring of 2007, Kralis stepped down as women's head coach and turned his proven program over to current coach, Darby Sligh.
In 2005, Kralis took over the men's program from mentor and former head coach, Harland Kilborn. Kralis led the men's golf team to the Missouri Valley Conference Championship in 2005 and 2007, and produced eight all-conference golfers. In 2005, Kralis became the first head coach in MVC history to capture both the men's and women's conference championships in the same year. In 2007, he was named MVC Coach of the Year and guided Matt Miller to the MVC Player of the Year award.
Throughout his tenure, success for his players has come both on-and-off the course. In the spring of 2005, the men's golf team posted a cumulative 3.09 grade-point average (GPA) and in the fall of 2007, the men's team averaged a 3.2 cumulative team GPA. These scores were good enough to take claim to the Illinois State Team GPA Award.
Kralis is happily married to Raquel Kralis, an Illinois State graduate. Together they have three sons, Tyson (9), Braden (6) and Keaton (3). The Kralis family resides in Bloomington.