SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Following a successful Fall Season, the 2002 Santa Clara University men's golf team is poised to make a run at the 2002 West Coast Conference Championships and a berth in the NCAA West Regionals. Head Coach John Kennaday returns only four players from a year ago and has infused the program with five freshmen that will help the Broncos this year and in years to come.
Kennaday led the young Broncos into four tournaments during the fall portion of the season, finishing fourth as a team in the final two events. The remarkable aspect of how well the Broncos did in these tournaments is the fact that Kennaday played four freshmen alongside senior Sandy Horacek (Los Angeles, Calif.) in three of the four tournaments.
"The fall season in my eyes went rather well," said Kennaday. "We predominantly started three or four freshmen out of five players every tournament which led to a rocky start. The last tournament we played in, however, had the strongest field we played against in the fall and we had a chance to win it all the way through the final hole."
"The guys made tremendous progress as we played in tournaments," said the fourth-year coach. "We had an outstanding fall from our senior captain Sandy Horacek which helped the younger guys progress quite a bit."
Horacek returns for his final season on the Mission Campus after a tremendous junior year and a summer that included a second-straight appearance in the United States Amateur Open. As a junior he played a team-high 31 rounds and posted the second-lowest scoring average on the team at 75.6. His best finish during the 2000-01 season was at the LMU/Farmer John Classic where he finished tied for first with a three-round score of 223. He posted two more top-10 finishes, including a sixth-place finish at the WCC Championships, earning him a spot on the All-WCC team.
This season Horacek is the unquestioned leader on and off the course for the Broncos. He leads Santa Clara with a 74.4 stroke average and had a top-10 finish at the University of Hawaii Fall Invitational where he finished eighth with a three-round score of 223.
Chris DeMartini (Hillsborough, Calif.) is another letterwinner returning from last season that has already seen some time on the course this year. As a sophomore last season he played in 10 rounds on the season and posted a season-low round of 76 at the SCU/Dusty Destruel Invitational. This season he has played in six rounds and posted a low round of 73 at the Bronco Invitational. Also marking his improvement from last year is the fact that he has already shaved three strokes off his average from a year ago.
Justin Ahasic (Aurora, Ill.) is a two-year letterwinner that returns following a season in which he competed in nine events and posted a 77.8 stroke average to go along with four top-25 finishes. His best round last season was a 67 at the Aztec Invitational in San Diego.
Skye Skikos (Santa Rosa, Calif.) is the final returner from a year ago and is looking to make an impact during his sophomore season. He did not see any time during competitive rounds as a freshman, but has already played in three rounds as a sophomore, finishing in a tie for 43rd at the Bronco Invitational with a three-round score of 235. His best round came during the third and final round of the tournament when he shot a three-over par, 75.
Alongside the four returners are five newcomers that are sure to have tremendous impacts on the golf program at Santa Clara over the next four seasons.
Matt Klenz (Tualatin, Ore.) tops the list of newcomers for the Broncos in 2002, having played in all 12 rounds thus far for Santa Clara, posting a 74.9 stroke average and having three top-10 finishes, including a sixth place finish at the University of Hawaii Fall Invitational.
"Matt has earned the nickname 'El Caballo' from the guys on the team," said Kennaday. "It is the Spanish word for horse and I guess they call him that because they figure I am gonna ride him in every tournament for the next four years. His fall this year was a great beginning to a possibly great career. I am very excited about his progress and his direction."
Jonathan Edwards (Weiser, Idaho) is another freshman that has played in all 12 rounds this year for the Broncos, posting a 77.5 stroke average that includes his best round of the year, a two-over par, 74, during the first round of the Bronco Invitational.
Kevin Bric (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) has played in nine rounds during his inaugural campaign at Santa Clara, posting a 75.8 stroke average which currently ranks third on the team. His best finish came at the University of Hawaii Invitational where he finished 11th with a score of 226. His best round of the year though came in the second round of the Bronco Invitational where he fired a one-over par, 71.
John Colyar (Saratoga, Calif.), like Bric, has played in nine of the 12 rounds for the Broncos this season with his best finish coming at the Bronco Invitational where he finished in a tie for 21st with a three-round total score of 10-over par, 226. His best round of the year to date came in the final round of the Bronco Invitational where he fired a two-over par, 74.
Dallas Stonhaus (Fresno, Calif.) has made appearances in two tournaments this year, playing six competitive rounds. His best rounds of the season both came in the second round, firing a 78 at the CHL Intercollegiate hosted by Cal State Northridge, and a one-under par, 71, at the Bronco Invitational.
Both Stonhaus and Colyar were bothered by lingering back problems late in the spring season. "Both guys started to gain a little ground but their injuries set them back," said Kennaday.
"Matt Klenz and Jonathan Edwards both brought in tremendous resumes and they basically have picked right up where their resumes left off," Kennaday added. "Kevin Bric has matured very quickly and has really impressed me with his ability to learn and concentrate on the golf course. He is contributing more early in his career than I thought he would."
The young Bronco team showed resilience in the fall season, rebounding after less than spectacular showings in their first two events, for back-to-back fourth place finishes to end the fall season. It was this finish in the fall that left the team and Coach Kennaday optimistic about their spring season.
But Kennaday knows that his team's success will not come without a great deal of work. He points to practice and conditioning as his major points of emphasis for the spring season.
"With the requirements of Santa Clara you can't waste a lot of time so we are working on having more quality practices than quantity of practices. We are working on making each ball that we hit, count and trying to have the guys learn faster from their experiences."
"We have also started back up with our strength and conditioning regimen. I let up a little bit in the fall thinking that it might help us out, but we faded a little in the later rounds. We are back to working out three days a week in the morning and I know it will pay off later in the season when playing 54 holes in 29 hours starts to take its toll after a while. I think it will also help the guys who were plagued by the back injuries late in the spring."
The Broncos success won't come easy in the fall as they are taking on the best of the best in one of their toughest schedules in recent history. The Broncos begin the fall season at the UCSB Bite Invitational and Sacramento State Invitational on back-to-back weeks in early March. They will then play in the UC Irvine Invite before playing in the Western Intercollegiate Tournament hosted by San Jose State in early April. Following that tournament the Broncos will look for a solid showing at the WCC Championships, April 14-15, in Fresno, Calif. Santa Clara will wrap-up its regular season by playing in the U.S. Intercollegiate Championships at Stanford.
If all goes well in the spring, the Broncos will then participate in the NCAA West Regional beginning May 17 at a site to be determined. The NCAA National Championships are scheduled to begin May 29 in Columbus, Ohio.