As the 2015-16 UW-Eau Claire men’s and women’s golf seasons come to an end, there is only one golfer remaining.
Junior Brady Hanson.
Hanson qualified for the 2016 NCAA Golf Championships two weeks ago, and yesterday finished 29th after one round of play.
Hanson has a chance to make it past the second cut if he can sneak into the top six. But regardless of his finish, first-year coach Courtney Everett said the experience Hanson gains from golfing on a national stage will only help him and the Blugolds going forward.
“Hanson is helping get the Blugold name out there,” Everett said. “Seeing someone come out of Eau Claire with such a great game on his shoulders speaks to our program and can attract some young high school players going forward.”
It’s been a busy two weeks for Hanson individually. Along with being named to the national tournament, the NCAA named Hanson a semifinalist for the Jack Nicklaus National Player of the Year Award for NCAA Division III.
On top of this, the Golf Coaches Association of America named Hanson to the Central Region Team. He is the only collegiate golfer in Wisconsin to receive the honor.
In the eyes of Everett and his teammates, all of Hanson’s accolades are well deserved and the numbers also confirm their opinions.
Hanson led the Blugolds with a 73.5 average in 21 rounds of play. Along with this, he finished in the top five three times and the top 10 five times throughout the season.
As his play increased, so did the rest of the teams.
To end the season, Eau Claire finished second at the Saint John’s (Minn.) Spring Invitational at the Territory Golf Club on April 23 and 24. At the event, fellow junior Joey Dreier beat out his teammate Hanson by finishing fifth and Hanson sixth.
Everett said having both golfers back next season, along with a core of young talent, puts them in position to make a run at nationals.
“To have players returning such as Dreier and Hanson that have the competitive drive that they have is something that can really influence this team,” Everett said. “Which is why they will be co-captains next year.”
It wasn’t just the men’s season that came to an end as the calendar turned to May. The women’s team also concluded what Everett called a productive spring season.
With only one graduating senior, the Blugolds return the bulk of their roster along with some new freshman.
Eau Claire finished the spring season by taking first at the UWEC Spring Invite and placing ninth at the Carleton Invitational.
Led by junior Katie Moore and freshman Allison Chomniak, as well as core group of sophomores, the foundation is set for the Blugolds for seasons to come.
“Having a younger team allows me to establish new ground rules,” Everett said. “I wanna push these girls just as I’ve been pushing the guys because I know they can be one of the top programs in the area along with the guys.”