Over an eight-event fall season, the Madison College men's golf team improved nearly every time it stepped on the course.
The WolfPack hopes to continue that trend this week when it competes in the 2019 NJCAA Division III Championships in Chautauqua, N.Y., albeit with a short, four-player roster. It will be the seventh national appearance for Madison College, which earned the trip to Chautauqua Golf Club by claiming the Region IV title back in October.
"Aside from being excited to represent Madison College and Region IV, we plan to take full advantage of a unique opportunity in our debut season of getting a first-hand look at the national competitio," first-year coach Glenn Eichstedt said. "It's a tremendous stepping stone as we work to get the program to another level."
In its previous six appearances at the dnational tournament, Madison College has finished seventh or better at the end of the four-round event. The WolfPack will be one of a dozen teams vying for the national title, which would be a first in program history. The WolfPack placed fifth in their most recent appearance in 2015-16, while the school does boast a pair of runner-up finishes back-to-back years in 2002-03 and 2003-04.
Tasked with trying to continue that strong tradition is a quartet of freshmen, who contributed to the weekly improvement of a season-opening 18-hole score of 344 to a season-best 18-hole round of 317 on day two of the region tournament.
Joe Cayer, a former Madison La Follette High School athlete, is the top player for the WolfPack after posting an average of 83.8. He posted a season-low round of 79 in the regional. During the team's spring tune-up, Cayer carded a four-over-par 76 at the Wisconsin Lutheran Spring Invitational at Morningstar Golf Club in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
Harrison Ernstmeyer averaged 87.2 strokes per 18 holes in the fall. The Reedsburg, Wisconsin, native shot a season-best nine-over-par 81 at the Dunes Classic in Kewanee, Illinois.
Cole Salzman, a product of Lodi, Wisconsin, was one of two players in the fall to play all 207 holes on the schedule. He finished with a 18-hole average of 94.3, which was highlighted by an 87 at the second day of the Skyhawk Classic in Rock Falls, Illinois.
Connor Rufenacht joined the team ahead of the Region IV Tournament, and the Verona, Wisconsin, native ended up with a second place finish that was keyed by a second round five-over-par 77. He was one of four players to receive All-Region accolades, along with Cayer, Salzman, and medalist Carter Simon. Simon led the WolfPack all fall with a 79.0 average and five top-ten finishes, but transferred to Tusculum University at semester break.
The 2019 tournament field is led by the 2018 runners-up Sandhills Community College (NC), as well as third through fifth place finishers Georgia Military College, Minnesota State Community & Technical College, and County College of Morris (NJ).
FMadison College will begin Round 1 with tee times starting at 8:48 a.m. with Cayer going off of No. 1. He'll be followed by 9:56 a.m., Ernstmeyer in the 10:04 a.m. group, and Salzman taking the tee at 10:12 a.m. The WolfPack will play in threesomes along with players from Minnesota State Community & Technical College and Nassau Community College (NY), the latter of which placed 12th a season ago.