Banner Season: Gee-Gees going for repeat result, while Blues turn to new-look group to continue successful streak

Banner Season: Gee-Gees going for repeat result, while Blues turn to new-look group to continue successful streak

Markham, Ont. – Much like the women’s banner has for the majority of the last decade, this year’s OUA Golf Championships will have to go through Toronto. But in addition to their role as reigning champions, they’re also set to serve as host for the 16 teams taking part in this year’s provincial finale at Angus Glen. The Varsity women will look to continue their conquests with another championship effort on their home turf, while it’s the Ottawa Gee-Gees men who are going for back-to-back gold when they hit the course alongside the rest of the OUA from October 7 to 8.

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It was lucky number seven for the Varsity Blues women’s team in 2018, as Toronto continued their sizzling streak atop the championship leaderboard once again. If they want to make it eight consecutive banners, however, they’ll need to do so without the services of three-time OUA individual champion Laura Upenieks and two-time all-star Kelsey Fuchs. But even with the loss of these decorated golfers, the Blues can turn to Ellice Hong (Toronto, Ont.), a two-time all-star herself, to lead the charge.

The third-year player will be joined by Sara Cumby (Canaan, N.S.) and Mackenzie Rice on the links, and the former will bring a multi-sport talent to the course. The combination golfer and basketball player has looked the part in her first year of play, picking up three top-5 finishes so far this season, including a personal best second-place finish at the Queen’s Invitational. Rice, meanwhile, has also provided an additional spark for the seven-time reigning champions, picking up a three top-10 results, including a silver medal in Waterloo, for the year.

The Blues men, meanwhile, will be aiming to build on their tenth-place result from 2018. The decorated program, which has reeled in 24 titles in the program’s history, will turn to veteran Matthew Puzhitsky to lead the youthful squad – a group that includes the silver medalist at the Queen’s Invitational, Grant Lau – and perhaps bring home the team’s first banner since 2008.

After finishing second in 2017, the Ottawa Gee-Gees men’s team took a step up the podium last year to capture their seventh title in program history. While they can’t finish any higher this time around, they are certainly eyeing a repeat performance, which will include lofty expectations from last year’s leading contributor – Anthony Brodeur (Essex Fells, N.J.). The two-sport standout (hockey, golf) spearheaded the team’s golden effort in 2018, finishing third overall to pick up an individual bronze with a score of 10-over.

Fellow Gee-Gee Jared Coyle (Manotick, Ont.) will also be aiming to do the Garnet and Grey proud in his third year and he enters this year’s play on a high note. Coyle played in the 2019 Canadian Men’s Amateur Championship, and along with the additional four Gee-Gees that took part in the event, made the cut en route to the team’s 10th-place finish. After finishing 25th individually in that event – one that features current PGA Tour pros among its list of former participants – Coyle will certainly have his sights set on climbing the leaderboard next week.

With a collection of returnees on the men’s side, it is a new-look women’s team that will be playing to improve on the team’s ninth-place rank a year ago, with Stephanie Chiarotto as the lone Ottawa player back from their 2018 group.

Galloping in just behind the Gee-Gees in last year’s standings were their fellow stallions from Western, as the Mustangs men turned in a silver medal performance in 2018. While the team as a whole fell one spot shy from the top of the podium and flipped positions with the Gee-Gees from the year prior, they did boast the individual champion from the two days of competition, and he, along with new captain Jackson Bowery, will be counted on once again in 2019.

Mac Carter (Cobourg, Ont.), who battled back from a two-stroke deficit after Day 1 to earn the Len Shore Trophy a year ago, was also part of the Canadian Championship runners up that lost in a playoff to UBC in the Spring of 2019, and with all of this high pressure experience in his back pocket, it would surprise no one to see the veteran among those contending for top spot next week. Alongside Bowery and fellow returnee Patrick Carleton, the ‘Stangs should have the talent, experience, and leadership to be fighting for top spot once again.

“We have had a successful fall season and are looking forward to Angus Glen,” said Jim Waite, head coach of the men’s team. “With the retirement of captain Charles Fitzsimmons, who is now coaching Western’s women’s program, we are counting on new captain Jackson Bowery to take over the leadership role with the team.”

With Bowery taking the reins for the men, new women’s coach Fitzsimmons will turn to another impressive Mustang to build on the team’s fifth-place finish in 2018. Amanda Kerr (Brampton, Ont.), a third-year golfer, has taken a big step forward in her leadership this season and has seen a pair of podium finishes as a result (2nd at Brock Invitational; 3rd at Western Invitational).

Rounding out the men’s podium from a year ago are the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks and they’re confident that a strong season ahead of the championships can help the team double down on that medal performance and perhaps help them take home the banner in 2019. Said coach Jeff Colley, “Confidence in your ability is a big part of the mental side of golf and I feel that our veteran team has that, which is why our goal is to bring home an OUA championship to Laurier”.

The veteran group, led by Jaron Brown (Thornhill, Ont.), turned in three medal-winning performances in four events with their top lineup, and with their first OUA medal since 2004 at last year’s event, podium contention is becoming just par for the course for the purple and gold. 

After never medalling individually heading into this season, Brown has made the most of his fourth year with the Hawks, flying high to a pair of top-3 finishes in the three events he’s played (silver at WLU-Waterloo Invitational; bronze at Brock Invitational). The breakout star on the men’s side will see a decorated teammate hit the links for the women’s team as well, as 2018 second-team all-star Sam Zulian (Burlington, Ont.) will bring a pair of top-15 finishes at the Western and Brock Invitationals this season into the championship, at which she finished tied for 10th last year.

Like their neighbours down the road, the Waterloo Warriors have seen plenty of team success heading into this year’s final, but it has been the women’s team doing most of the damage for the black and gold. Both Warriors’ squads placed in the top-five last year, and while the men – led by Tyler Cormier (Collingwood, Ont.) and his sixth place finish at the team’s home invitational – will be eyeing a similarly successful finish for the black and gold, the Waterloo women’s team has gold on their minds.

After seeing their squad finish atop the leaderboard in four of the five invitationals they attended this season, the veteran Warriors team is looking to make waves on the championship scene as well. Leading the way for Waterloo is recent OUA Peak Performer Elanna Lachaine-DeMarchi (Cambridge, Ont.), who has brought home plenty of hardware herself this season. The fifth-year golfer secured individual gold at both the McMaster and Waterloo Invitationals, while also adding a silver medal to her impressive 2019 haul. Lachaine-DeMarchi, like the entirety of the Waterloo squad, hopes that this recent string of success has them on or even atop the podium next week.

Should the Waterloo women want to snag a spot on the podium, they’ll need to fend off another medal-winning group from 2018 – the Queen’s Gaels. The reigning silver-medalists have never won an OUA title, but they have the talent to compete for one once again, with Jasmine Mussani (Greely, Ont.) at the forefront of the Tricolour attack. The third-year player helped her squad to a fourth-place finish at the Gaels & Gryphons Invitational – a result the team would repeat at their following event – thanks to her bronze medal individual score of 7-over (79).

It will be another junior who helps anchor the Gaels men’s team, as Michael von Schalburg (King City, Ont.) has been on fire for Queen’s this season. Success started right off the hop for the third-year, as he picked up two tournament wins in one weekend, earning top spot at both the Gaels & Gryphons (-3) Invitational and Bert Kea Invitational (-1). The Kingston school will hope for similar swings next week to help their squad burst onto the podium this year.

Just behind Queen’s, the Windsor Lancers are coming off a bronze medal finish for their women’s team a year ago, and head coach Adam Wagner is looking forward to “hopefully having our best result in school history” this time around.

If the Lancers want to turn that hope into a reality, they’ll look to an experienced group on the women’s side to take charge, but will also hope the early success of a couple rookies can continue into their first championship outings. Laura DeMarco (LaSalle, Ont.) and Alyssa Getty (Kingsville, Ont.) each had impressive debuts on the OUA stage, as the first-year golfers turned heads in their initial university events. The former captured gold at the Brock Invitational, while the latter matched that feat at the Western Invitational, showing that both have what it takes to climb the ranks against the conference’s best.

Youth will be the name of the game for the Windsor men, meanwhile, as their group, which finishes ninth a year ago, hopes to gain experience on the championship stage.

Like the Lancers, the Brock Badgers will rely on a young men’s team and experienced women’s team to anchor their efforts on the course. The latter will aim to rise the ranks after a sixth place result last year, while the former will turn to a third-year to do the same with his individual finish in 2018. Jack Allan (St. Catharines, Ont.) placed in the top-10 at last year’s provincial finale (8th) and will be swinging for even more this year. Having transferred to Brock from U of T, the Niagara native will be playing on familiar territory at Angus Glen this year.

Joining Allen for the St. Catharines squad is second-year player Nolan von Kalckreuth (Fort Erie, Ont.). He’ll be looking to turn his solid showings at invitationals this year, highlighted by a tie for low scorer at the Guelph event, into continued prowess at the conference championship.

Another school that will hope a transfer student can make a splash for them is Guelph, and it’s a formula that worked for the Gryphons a year ago. Talented transfer Katie McTaggart (Guelph, Ont.) arrived at Guelph for the 2019 campaign after having spent the previous four years competing in Division I golf at Western Illinois and has impressed in her first season in the OUA. She’ll be joined by one of the most consistent players on the team, as captain Rachel Bauer returns for her second season with the Gryphs.

Also in his second season with the team, the men’s side will be led by Josiah Dixon (Owen Sound, Ont.), who is another Gryphon to find success elsewhere before joining the OUA squad. Dixon was crowned the individual and team national champion in 2016 while leading the Niagara College Knights to gold at the CCAA National Golf Championships, but his success has also carried over to Guelph. In his first season, Dixon earned a top-five finish at the 2019 Canadian Championships and led his team to fifth at the 2018 OUA Championships, and now in his encore campaign, he has picked up a first-place result at the Brock Invitational as well. 

Many teams are looking to rise the ranks after last year’s results, and after a pair of eighth place finishes a year ago, the McMaster Marauders are another to eye a higher spot in this year’s standings. On the women’s side, however, they will aim to do so with few returnees donning the maroon and white come tee off. Spearheading their efforts will be the team’s low scorer from last year’s festivities, Emily Heming (Richmond Hill, Ont.), who was also Mac’s leading scorer at their home invitational last month (T10). Heming, along with Rebecca Bauer, will enter as the team’s experienced top finishers, but the Marauders as a whole will be somewhat of an unknown quantity heading into the year’s first championship.

The same cannot be said on the men’s side, however, as much of the Marauders group from a year ago is back for more. The likes of Patrick Maloney, Brett Brydges, and Sam Coons (Hamilton, Ont.) will lead the pack with another a year of championship experience under their belts, but it’s the latter who will look to turn heads after his most recent result found him in a tie for third at the WLU-Waterloo Invitational a week ago.

It will be a new look Laurentian squad at Angus Glen next week and experience will be the name of the game for the young Voyageurs contingent. This year marks the first time that the Sudbury school will have a full women’s team compete at the OUA event, and this expanded group will be led by third-year Gracen Lacko (Sudbury, Ont.). It will be a similarly inexperienced group on the men’s side, with just one member having championship experience, but first-year Jacob Lacko (Sudbury, Ont.), who has led the Voyageurs all season long, will be eyeing a strong finish to his rookie campaign.

Representing the Rams, meanwhile, will be a pair of first-year golfers who made the most of their limited window to qualify this season. With Ryerson only playing in two events, it is no small feat for Matt McRae (Aurora, Ont.) and Ahren McCutcheon (Toronto, Ont.) to earn their spots at the championship, and after turning in totals of 81 and 82, respectively, at the Guelph Invitational, they’ll try their hand at Angus Glen against the best of the best the OUA has to offer next week.

Like Ryerson, it will be an all-male contingent on the course for Ontario Tech and it’s a group that has limited championship experience. The team as a whole has been growing stronger as the season has progressed, but to maintain this upward trend at Angus Glen, they’ll need strong play from both Brendan Smith (Whitby, Ont.) and Justin Posteraro (Courtice, Ont.). Each of the aforementioned golfers found themselves as the top Ridgebacks finisher at an event this season and both are eyeing continued improvement in just their first and second years, respectively.

Rounding out the competition hitting the links this weekend are the Carleton Ravens, Trent Excalibur, and the York Lions.

The first round of play for the 2019 OUA Golf Championships tees off on Monday, October 7, with a shot gun start at 8:30am, with play wrapping up with Round 2 on Tuesday, October 8.

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