It’s been a slow start to the shortened season of the Bradley men’s golf team, but after competing in two tournaments in five days, their foot is surely on the gas now.
“It was tiring and a lot of travel, but from a competitive standpoint, it brought out those competitive juices, so it was good,” head coach Jeff Roche said.
The quick trip started in Lemont, Illinois when the Braves faced off in match-style play on Friday. In the first matchup of the day, the Braves were led by graduate Alex Ciaramitaro, freshman Josh Kirkham, junior Jalen Hodges, freshman Brady Kreiter, sophomore Roy Radke and freshman John Stillman. The group fell to DePaul 4-2 in the first round, with Kreiter and Stillman scoring for the Braves.
“I know a lot of the guys, including myself, got off to a slower start and spent much of [their] time battling back,” Kirkham said. “Everybody really fought back hard at the end of the first round and it helped for when we played Chicago State later.”
In the match for third place later that day, the Braves used the same lineup to top Chicago State 5-1. Ciaramitaro and Hodges each halved their matchup while Kirkham, Kreiter, Radke and Stillman each tallied a point for the third-place finish.
“Only a couple had any match play experience, and so we may have [gotten] behind [versus DePaul], but we really finished strong later,” Roche said.
Following Friday’s match, the club made the trip down to Dickson, Tennessee for the Murray State Invitational. There, the team would participate in a 15-team stroke play tournament composed of three rounds in two days.
Through completion of the first two rounds, it was Hodges and Radke who led the Braves at three-over-par, helping Bradley end the first day in eighth at 16-over-par.
“[Monday] showed a lot of progress from last year,” Roche said. “What I was really proud of, and where we are showing maturity from last year, was when we would go through a bad stretch, we had a hard time with it, but this time we held it together.”
After the third round concluded Tuesday, the Braves stood alone in eighth at 22-over 886. It was one of the best performances from the Braves all year, as Hodges and Kirkham led a solid charge to help overcome an uncharacteristic outing from Ciaramitaro, who finished tied for 60th.
Following a three-over-par finish in the first round, Jalen Hodges’ second and third round finishes of 72 and 70 helped him rebound to finish tied for 18th overall with an overall score of one-over-par. Kirkham finished tied for 31st after carding an overall score of six-over-par.
The team believes that the performances on Monday and Tuesday showcased the potential within the squad.
“We are taking baby steps, and I feel like we have gotten better each event, and I feel like if we can ride off some confidence as a team, we can see the progress each round,” Kirkham said.
The men will look to string together another strong performance on Monday when they travel to Kettering, Ohio to take part in the Flyer Invitational to close the regular season.