Men's Golf Bounces Back, Takes Third at MVC Championship
April 22, 2008
DAVENPORT, Iowa - The Illinois State men's golf team rebounded from seventh place at the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Championship as the Redbirds posted a final-round, 1-over-par 285 to move up four spots on the leaderboard at the par-71, 6,633-yard Davenport Country Club, to claim third place. ISU was led by sophomore Tommy Bliefnick who posted a final-round 70 on his way to a third-place finish individually.
Although ISU was unable to retain its MVC crown, head coach Ray Kralis was pleased with the way his young team played on day two.
"I am extremely pleased with the way the guys came out and competed today," said Kralis. "It would have been easy to get down on ourselves but the guys bounced back and we got the team effort we needed. We showed the kind of golf we are capable of playing and with the same group of guys back next year, this could be a good learning experience as well as a motivator for next season."
As a team, Illinois State posted a three-round-total of 884 (301, 298, 285) and landed four individuals in the top-20. Bliefnick led the way with a three-round-total of 213 (74, 69, 70), but ISU got the team effort it was looking for as redshirt sophomore Joe Emerich finished in a tie for 15th with a three-round-total of 224 (76, 79, 69). Junior Ben Murphy (75, 78, 72) and redshirt sophomore Kyle Bragg each tied for 20th with three-round-totals of 225. Freshman Jeff Kellen rounded out the Redbird scoring with a three-round-total of 231 (76, 78, 77).
"I couldn't be happier with the tournament Tommy had," said Kralis. "He had a good first round and two great rounds to close it out. He struggled some in the fall, but has really come on strong this spring and I look forward to watching him mature and improve his game over the next two years. He has shown the ability to be one of our leaders for the next few seasons."
Wichita State claimed the individual title by 24 strokes over second-place Southern Illinois. The Shockers tallied a three-round-team-total of 850 (287, 279, 284) and also claimed individual-medalist honors as Connor McHenry posted a three-round-total of 208 (72, 66, 70) to finish just two strokes ahead of teammate Dustin Garza (70, 72, 70-212) and just five strokes ahead of Bliefnick.