The Northern Michigan University golf team, led by head coach Dean Ellis, played in the Lake Superior State University Fall Invitational on Wild Bluff Golf Course (Brimley, MI,) Monday, Sept. 9 and Tuesday, Sept. 10.
The Wildcats placed fifth at this invitational, with three players in the top 20. With an overall score of 614, the Wildcats finished 38 over par. Finishing in first place was Wayne State, who were 19 over par. Tiffin took second place (+21), followed by Saginaw Valley State University (+23), and then LSSU (+34).
“We had a very solid and encouraging tournament,” Ellis said. “After the first round we were four shots out of the lead and the second day we matched our first day’s score. Unfortunately for our team, the entire field had tremendous team scores the second day to move ahead of our team score.”
Leading the Wildcats was junior Ayrton Mantha. Mantha shot a 76 on Monday, followed by a 74 on Tuesday. He finished 13th with a total score of seven-over-par. Other contributing golfers included seniors Mike Murphy and Jared Reid. Murphy shot a 73 on day one, followed by an 80 on day two, while Reid scored a 78 and a 75. Both players’ scores totaled to 153, tying them for 20th in the invitational.
Ellis said several of the NMU golfers stood out with their strong finishes.
“Ayrton Mantha, Jared Reid, and Mike Murphy had strong tournaments,” Ellis said. “Their leadership and play will assist us through our upcoming tournaments.”
Other golfers for the Wildcats included freshman Dustin Dishaw (157), and sophomores Austin LeGault (160), and Patrick Sweeney (171). The golf team’s roster this year also includes freshmen Hunter Mires and Nick Schippel, junior Tyler Parkin, and senior Ben Johnson.
The NMU golf team placed seventh last year in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Preview tournament Saturday, Apr. 27, 2013. They were led by Mantha, who scored 79. He was only seven-over-par, taking 17th overall in the tournament.
Other contributing players in the 2013 GLIAC Preview tournament included LeGault and Sweeney who tied for 35th, each finishing with a score of 84. Johnson finished with an 86 and Reid with a 91.
Last season, Murphy finished sixth at the Wisconsin State Amateur Championship. His score was only six-over par during the tournament on July 25. The four day event took place at The Bog in Saukville, Wis. It featured 180 of the state’s top amateur golfers.
A native of Madison, Wis., Murphy began round one of the tournament with a score of 68 after recording six birdies. He finished day two with a score of 78. Round three ended with a score of 73 for Murphy, who birdied four of five holes on the front nine. He again scored a 73 on the fourth and final round of the tournament after he scored a birdie in three of the last four holes, under the leadership of Ellis.
Ellis has been coaching the Wildcats since 1993. He has his own background in golfing, having won the Upper Peninsula men’s amateur competition in 1981 and the club championship at Wawonowin Country Club in 1995 in Ishpeming.
Besides golf, Ellis has also coached men’s basketball at NMU for 24 seasons. He holds the record for being the program’s most winning coach. His overall coaching record for Wildcat basketball was 358-288. He led the team to two GLIAC titles, a GLIAC Tournament title, and three appearances in the NCAA Tournament.
Mires, who is redshirted this year, said the upperclassmen on the team have worked really hard to help out all of the golfers.
“Mike Murphy (Murph) and Jared Reid are really good leaders at practice,” Mires said. “They are always trying to improve themselves and everyone else.”
The Wildcats have a break this weekend before they travel to South Haven, Mich. for the GLIAC North Tournament. The Tournament begins Friday, Sept. 20 and will be played on Hawkshead Golf Course in South Haven, Mich.
“We should finish in the upper end of the tournaments this year which is always better than towards the bottom,” Mires said. “I’m expecting a big year!”