LINCOLN, Neb. – Led by senior Tylar Samek and a couple of newcomers, the Concordia University men’s golf squad ushered in the 2019-20 season while in action in round one of the Blue River Classic on Tuesday (Sept. 3). The Bulldogs serve as a co-host with Doane for the annual 36-hole event. Concordia carded a team score of 316 (currently ninth out of 17 teams) in the first round played at Wilderness Ridge Golf Club in Lincoln, Neb.
Samek and freshmen Drew D’Ercole and Jayveenrahj Gunaseelan all shot rounds in the 70s to pace a squad guided by Brett Muller, who is in his ninth season leading the Bulldog golf programs.
“We had two freshmen come in our top five and contribute right away,” Muller said. “I’m very proud of Drew and Jay for their rounds today. Jay had a couple bad breaks and a couple bigger scores than he would have liked, but 79 considering everything – we’ll take that. We need to find a fourth scorer. We can’t be taking an 85 and expect to have a good team score. I know the guys are excited to get out to Highlands tomorrow and play at our home course.”
The lineup has a new look to it with irreplaceable Nolan Zikas having graduated this past spring. A native of David City, Neb., Samek is by far the most experienced of the bunch (50 career collegiate rounds entering this fall). In the opening round of his senior campaign, Samek carded a six-over-par 77 and sits in a tie for 24th place out of a field of 105 golfers.
In order for Concordia to move up from a ninth-place GPAC finish last season, it will need a boost from the likes of D’Ercole (Papillion, Neb.) and Gunaseelan (Batu Caves, Malaysia). D’Ercole acclimated well to the course at Wilderness Ridge and turned in a 75, good for a tie for 10th place and five strokes off the tournament leader. Meanwhile, Gunaseelan shot a 79 (tied for 37th).
The lineup was rounded out by sophomore Jack Williams (85; T-74th) and junior Jayden Neal (88; T-87th). Both established themselves as regulars in the top five last season.
The Blue River Classic is heavy with GPAC squads and also includes three junior colleges. The tournament will pick back up at 10 a.m. CT on Wednesday from the home course of the Bulldogs, Highlands Golf Course in Lincoln.