The Penn State Altoona men's golf team heads west to Warren, Ohio and the Avalon Lakes Golf and Country Club for the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Championships this Sunday, October 7 and Monday, October 8. The Lions will look to add a sixth AMCC Championship and earn their fifth trip to the NCAA Division III National Championship. Head coach Tom Koehle looks forward to the challenge this weekend.
"I am confident in our team and the five players representing us. One through five, any of our players can shoot a great round, and we have been waiting all season for everyone to put it together in the same tournament. There is no better time and place than this weekend," Koehle stated.
As noted throughout the fall, Koehle thinks it's anyone's ball game.
"This is the closest and most competitive the conference has been in my 14 years as coach and two years as a player," he said. "Penn State Behrend is strong as always, and La Roche is sending an experienced squad. Pitt-Bradford and Mount Aloysius pose a threat, as well, as they have shown great improvement and outstanding play this fall."
Freshman Ethan Yohe (Murrysville, PA/Franklin Regional) heads into the weekend with the fourth-best scoring average in the AMCC and is lowest of all AMCC rookies. Coming off a second place finish and a 73 at Hanover Country Club, Yohe may be peaking at the right time.
"Ethan plays a powerful game. He found his putting a bit at Hanover and confidence in his iron game," noted Koehle.
Sophomore Luke Hoffnagle (Spring Grove, PA/Spring Grove) is a returning first team All-AMCC selection. According to Koehle, "Luke has steadied the ship over the last two weeks. He made five birdies at Hanover on Wednesday, and that was coming off a 76 and a top ten finish at Behrend on Monday."
"Carter and Payton both have the games to go low and lead our team," said Koehle. "There is no doubt that both of them could be the sleepers in this tournament and be the difference-makers the winning team would need to come out on top. It's going to take someone stepping up and putting two good rounds together."
Rounding out the lineup will be sophomore Jimmy Gillespie (Glen Mills, PA/Garnet Valley). Gillespie has finished first in two tournament this season and owns the sixth-best scoring average in the AMCC. Koehle said, "I'm not surprised by Jimmy's performance this year. His hard work, focus, and attitude is above and beyond any player in the conference, and that is why he has succeeded. He carries the confidence of playing well at Avalon last year with him into the weekend."
Penn State Behrend is the defending AMCC champion. Penn State Altoona finished third in 2017 and second in 2016. This weekend's winner will receive the AMCC's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III National Championship, May 14-17, 2019 at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky., home of the PGA TOUR Barbasol Championship.
The Lions' first tee time will be 12:40 PM on Sunday afternoon. Monday pairings will be based off the finish of the first round.