Kent State’s men’s golf team had an up and down experience of a tournament. The team found itself as low as 15th place and as high as tied for second place at any time during the Fighting Irish Classic tournament on Oct. 4-5.

“It was kind of a bit of a roller coaster because at the beginning of the tournament we got off to a slow start,” coach Jon Mills said. “For the first nine holes, we were probably in second to last place.”

The tournament was hosted by No. 22 University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.

First round scores left the Flashes tied for sixth place carding a 4-over-par, 284, and leading the way was graduate student Josh Gilkison, who sat tied for 22nd place shooting an even par, 70.

After day one, Kent was in fourth place shooting a 3-under-par, 557. Gilkison was tied for fifth place carding a -5, 135, and junior Chris Vandette and sophomore Cade Breitenstine were tied for 16th place shooting an even par, 140.

“From the second round on, we just played awesome golf and it was good to see,” Mills said. “I still feel like we left a lot out there, but we’re trending in the right direction, and the guys are playing better and gaining more confidence.”

In the third round, the Flashes were as high as second place in the team standings, but went on to settle for a fourth place finish carding a 6-under-par, 834 for the tournament.

“I feel like we’ve got a very resilient group, and when they do struggle, they bounce back really nicely,” Mills said. “That’s what you should do. Good players can forget the bad round and more or less have that motivate them for the second and third rounds.”

The University of Washington Huskies won the tournament shooting a 15-under-par, 825.

Individually for Kent, Gilkison finished tied for fourth place carding a 6-under-par, 204 and Vandette finished tied for sixth place carding a 5-under-par, 205.

“Josh didn’t play well in the second tournament of the season, but bounced back really nicely from that and played great this week,” Mills said. “[Chris] Vandette’s been playing better every week. Each week they both gain more and more confidence, and it’s fun to watch. It’s amazing what they can do on a golf course.”

Rounding out the Flashes individual scores were Breitenstine, who finished tied for 21st place and shot a 1-above-par, 211, sophomore Luca Civello, who finished tied for 30th place and shot a 4-above-par, 214 and freshman Jordan Gilkison, who finished tied for 50th place and shot a 10-over-par, 220.

“As a freshman, [Jordan’s] been doing great,” Mills said. “He struggled a bit this past week, but that’s going to happen. You’re going to go through your ups and downs as a freshman. He is a very level headed player who doesn’t let his emotions get the best of him.”

Originally, senior Julien Paltrinieri was slated to be in the top five rotation, but due to a neck injury, Civello replaced him in the lineup.

“Julien wasn’t feeling great and wasn’t able to play, but we had an individual [Civello] who went right in the night before and was able to step in and play and count for us,” Mills said.

The tournament’s individual winner was University of Washington’s senior RJ Manke, who carded a 12-under-par, 198.

Kent’s next tournament will be the Purdue Fall Invitational hosted by Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana on Oct. 11 and Oct. 12. 

“There’s always things that you can identify that we can do better like wedge work,” Mills said. “We have to clean that up as a team. Wedges are where you score and I think as a whole we have to do better at that.”

Kathryn Rajnicek is a reporter. Contact her at krajnice@kent.edu

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